Tuesday 06 December 2022, 07:00

Moroccan football’s continuing success

  • FIFA Forward Programme has helped advance women’s football

  • Mohammed VI Football Academy leading the way

  • Great success for men’s, women’s, Futsal and U-17 teams

In July 2022, Morocco hosted a FIFA Talent Development Scheme workshop as part of the Talent Development Plan launched by FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger in 2020. The country has demonstrated a strong desire to continue its development, making resources available to the youth sides that represent the future of Moroccan football. During the workshop, the President of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation Fouzi Lekjaa said: “The development of football in Morocco should be based on a three-pronged approach focusing on facilities, talent and well-qualified staff. My Federation colleagues and I are certain that these three elements must be in place to ensure proper development.”

Making history

Moroccan football is starting to reap the rewards of the Federation’s good work, achieving great success at all levels of both the men’s and women’s game. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ has been a dream come true for the Atlas Lions, who topped their group to qualify for the round of 16 and become the first African team to earn seven points in a FIFA World Cup group stage, all while being led by a Moroccan coach. Morocco have also had a lot of recent success in futsal, winning the 2020 Africa Futsal Cup of Nations and winning their first ever FIFA Futsal World Cup matches at Lithuania 2021, defeating Solomon Islands 6-0 and Venezuela 3-2, before being knocked out in the quarter-finals after a 1-0 loss to Brazil. According to coach Hicham Dguig, reaching the quarter-finals was “a great achievement after facing very strong opposition”. The Moroccan Federation played a key role, providing the team with support and hosting friendlies against teams like Argentina and Brazil.

Growing success in women’s football

The Moroccan Federation is not focused on men’s football alone, paying plenty of attention to the women’s game as well. The COVID-19 relief plan under the FIFA Forward Programme made grants of 500,000 dollars available to each member association in order to assist women’s football. These funds enabled Morocco to restart women’s football. Since then, they have achieved impressive results, reaching the final of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations 2022 hosted in their own country only to miss out on the title after losing to South Africa. The Atlas Lionesses also qualified for Australia and New Zealand 2023, their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. There was success off the pitch too, with record attendances confirming the country’s strong interest in women’s football.

A bright future

Morocco women’s U-17 side also had success this year. Not only did they qualify for their first ever FIFA U-17 World Cup finals, but they recorded their first win in the competition, beating hosts India 3-0, finishing third in their group behind United States and Brazil. A key reason for this success is that the Moroccan Federation’s interest goes beyond the senior men’s and women’s teams, continuing its short-, medium- and long-term work to prepare for the future. Perhaps the most significant milestone in its development plans was the opening of the Mohammed VI Football Academy in 2019. The Academy is spread over 30 hectares and features state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that comply with FIFA standards. Without a doubt, the Academy played a huge role in the development of this excellent U-17 team and their qualification for the biggest tournament in the world.