Group A: Morocco        Castellano   Page 2

Argentina  2

Austria  2

Belgium  2

Brazil  2

Bulgaria

Cameroon

Chile  2

Colombia

Croatia  2

Denmark

England

France  2

Germany  2

Iran

Italy  2

Jamaica

Japan

México

Morocco  2

Netherlands  2

Nigeria

Norway

Paraguay

Romania

Saudi Arabia

Scotland

South Africa

South Korea

Spain  2

Tunisia

United States

Yugoslavia

 Fédération Royale Marocaine de Football  

Coach: Henri MICHEL.

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vs.NORWAY

10.06.98 Montpellier

vs.BRAZIL

16.06.98 Nantes

vs.SCOTLAND

23.06.98 Saint-Etienne

Team Colors: Red with Green sleeves, White pants.

2nd Uniforn: Green with red/white trims, Green pants.

Confederation: CAF

Fourth time in World Cup finals (1970, 1986, 1994, 1998)

First African team to reach last 16 (1986 World Cup in México)

African Nations Champions in 1976

Third in African Nations Cup in 1980

Key players: M Ismael Triki (Lausanne, Switzerland),

M Youssef Chippo (Porto, Portugal),

M Mustapha El Hadji (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal).

Saladdine Bassir

Keep an Eye On: Noureddine Naybet: Strong and benefiting from better control of his temper.

Mustapha El Hadji: Silky mover made in France, he chose Morocco ahead of playing for the hosts.

Saladdine Bassir: Prolific goalscorer during the qualifying stages.

Analysis: Michel was one of France's most beloved athletes; his team will enjoy a good reception on French soil. Very cautious on attack. Defense is well-organized. F Salaheddine Bassir a threat.

Will get three games of international experience and no more.

History: Morocco has long been a force in the Arab-Muslim football world, producing several world-class players. Hajd Larbi Benbarek, nicknamed the 'Black Pearl', was selected to play for France in the 1940's, and Ibrahim Totoune represented France in the 1950's.

Since Moroccan independence in 1956, football has been the number one sport in the country. Despite a shortage of top quality stadiums with pitches to match, matches are played in nearly every village, usually on dusty roads. For 40 years the game was amateur, but in 1996 the Royal Moroccan Football Federation decided to make the sport professional to help the country compete at an international level. Apart from a single African Nations Champions title in 1976, the national team has not had the same success in African as the Moroccan club sides. Raja Casablanca, FAR of Rabat, Widad Casablanca and Olympique Khouribga have all won all-Africa Cups, as well as taking Arab titles.

In the World Cup, Morocco became the first African nation to make the last 16 when they made the finals in Mexico in 1986. In 1997 Morocco qualified both for the Afican Nations Cup and the 1998 World Cup without a single defeat in their qualifying groups.

King Hassan II, apoplectic when Fifa declined his invitations to host the World Cup, would settle for Moroccobringing home the trophy from France. Henri Michel, his national team coach, might settle for the chance to play the French in any round, given that France dismissed him as manager after a pallid draw with Cyprus in 1988. It could not be tougher, given that Morocco has drawn the group of Brazil.

Realistically, someone has to convince the King that while his subjects make world-renowned runners, competing with theball is something else. Michel, who played wing half in the 1978 World Cup and managed France to the semi-final in 1986, has drastically reconstructed the Moroccan team after it failed to win a game at the 1994 finals. Given a full year to rebuild, he came up with a blend of youth, responsive to his discipline, and experience. His defensive pillar is Noureddine Naybet, 27, of Deportívo La Coruña.

In midfield, Mustapha El Hadji, 26, of Sporting Lisbon, should feel at home in France. He grew up in the Moselle region, where his father sought work down the mines. The young El Hadji gave up boxing - it was too violent - to play for Platini's club Nancy. France tried to cap him at Under-21 level, but El Hadji preferred Morocco.

However, the Moroccans expected at the finals - up to 20,000 of them - worship Salaheddine Bassir, the striker whose ratio is ten goals in 16 internationals, four in four World Cup qualifiers. Bassir reaped rewards in Saudi Arabia for a year and joined his compatriot, Naybet, in La Coruña last summer.

Up and Coming Morocco.

POSITION NAME AGE CAPS

G Driss Benzekri 24 3

G Abdelkader Brazi 33 48

G Abdelatif Iraqui 29 9

D Lahcene Abrami 28 36

D Abdelkrim Hadrioui 25 49

D Nourredine Naibet 27 84

DYoussef Rossi 24 11

D Abdelilah Saber 22 19  

D Smahi Triki 29 15

M Rachid Azzouzi 25 28

M Said Chiba 29 13

M Youssef Chippo 24 11

M Larbi Hababi 25 46

M Mustapha Haji 24 35

M Abdelatif Jrindo 23 12

M Mustapha Khalif 33 15

M Tahar Lakrej 29 51

M Karim Mghori 26 4

M Ouakili Mohamed 26 2  

M Jamel Sallami 27 15

F Salahdine Basir 25 21

F Ahmed Behja 27 15

F Youssef Fertout 27 33

F Adelajalil Hadda 25 7

F Khalid Raghib 29 27  

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