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FIFA Welcomes Atlas Lions Among ‘Heroes’ Returning to 2018 World Cup

FIFA Welcomes Atlas Lions Among ‘Heroes’ Returning to 2018 World Cup

Rabat – Ahead the draw for the 2018 World Cup on December 1, FIFA has taken the opportunity to welcome five teams out of the 32 squads who qualified for the tournament, including the Atlas Lions.

In a press release published in its official website, FIFA welcomed both “the debutants and the returning heroes” to the competition, scheduled to take place in Russia next summer. The Moroccan national football team is on the list of the returning heroes.

“The Atlas Lions are back at the World Cup for the first time in two decades, having topped and emerged unbeaten from a group that included Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon and Mali,” said FIFA.

For every team listed in the statement, FIFA chosen one of the team’s footballers to highlight his strengths. For the Moroccan team, Morocco’s team captain Mehdi Benatia was FIFA’s star.

“In captain Mehdi Benatia, a powerful and composed center-half, Morocco possesses one of the best defenders in Africa,” wrote FIFA.

FIFA added that the Moroccans have recorded two wins and four draws at the World Cup “and all six of these have come against European oppositions.”

FIFA also put a significant quote from each team’s coach. The international football company featured Lions coach Herve Renard saying that his team is ready to battle any team in the tournament, including France.  “We do not fear anyone. I want my side to be drawn in the same group as France. It would be a great honor for me to face France in the World Cup,” said the coach.

The other four teams featured in FIFA’s publication are: Panama, Peru, Egypt and Iceland.

The draw will take place next Friday at 3 p.m. GMT at the Kremlin in Moscow. Both Renard and Fouzi Lekjaa, president of the Moroccan Federation of Football (FRMF) are set to attend the draw ceremony.

Five African teams have qualified for the 2018 World Cup: Nigeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Senegal.

The last time Morocco qualified to the World Cup was in France 1998. At the time, Achraf Hakimi, Morocco’s right back and Real Madrid player was still not born. This is the fifth time the Atlas Lions qualify for the World Cup following the editions of 1970, 1986, 1994, and 1998.

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