For years and years we have been repeating the same revisionist mantra. We have been saying over and over again that we are a ‘’great’’ football nation and that we have a ‘’glorious’’ football history.
Rabat – We have reiterated this fantasy whenever our football team has failed miserably to live up to expectations. The Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, a championship which we won only once 43 years ago, seems to give us the greatest cause for self-deception.
I expect that our so-called “football-analysts’’ and journalists will again bring up ‘’our glorious past,’’ following the elimination of our team from the second round of this year’s tournament.
The shock elimination came in the wake of an astonishing loss to Benin, in a game most would have expected Morocco to easily win.
What seems absurd is to talk about a ‘’glorious past’’ when, out of 13 tournaments held during the last 30 years, our team only reached the African Cup of Nations final once.
In 2004 we lost to Tunisia. For the rest, the Atlas Lions were either unable to break through the quarter-finals, were eliminated from the first round,or even failed to qualify for the championship in the first place.
So, the question remains: what ‘’glorious past’’ are we talking about? Are we talking about historic participation in the World Cup? How does that count as a ‘’glorious’’ achievement?
Our football is not as good as we have always thought, or claimed, let’s just face it. We can’t compare ourselves to countries like Egypt, Cameroon, Nigeria, or Ghana. That is the truth, pure and simple.
Egypt won 7 Africa Cup of Nations titles and Cameroon won five. Both Nigeria and Cameroon won a football Olympic gold medal, an achievement truly worthy of being called ‘’glorious’’.
The fact that we are a nation with one continental trophy refutes the claim that we have perpetuated, and continue to perpetuate. Are these decades of failure an abnormality or the norm?
It is true that the Moroccan team has boasted a rosta of talented players over the years.Mohamed Timoumi, Zaki Badou, and Mustapha Hadji proved this by winning the prestigious African Footballer of the Year. It might also be true that Morocco has been known for its ‘beautiful’ football.
It is also true that our team gave great performances in some World Cup tournaments, as was the case in 1986, 1998 and 2018.
Is this honestly what we should call an achievement?
Maybe it is time to face the truth. It is time to acknowledge that we have never been great, and if we ever were, it was an exception and not the rule.
Maybe if we were to accept this fact, we could look at ourselves more modestly. We could start thinking about how to improve, to measure up against other African nations who truly can pride themselves on the greatness of their football at a continental level.
Then, we could set realistic goals for ourselves. We could finally stop lurring ourselves that we are able to win the championship. We could plan to build up a team for the future, a team which would strive to do better with each tournament.
Fans too must lower their expectations, instead of getting carried away every time by the false hope that we can win the title.
One of the early steps that should be taken in this process, would be to turn to local talents in the Moroccan football league. We need to stop relying on foreign-born players who, though they are bigger names and some of them play or played for major teams in Europe, have repeatedly failed to achieve tangible victories.
Where were Oualid El Karti, Zakaria Hadraf, Abdelilah El Hafidi and Mohcine Iajour, among others when Herve Renard named the national squad for CAN 2019?
These players, who helped their teams, and Morocco, win the African Confederation of Football (CAF) Champions League, the CAF Cup, and African Nations Championship (CHAN), were excluded from the team’s lineup.
Our team is like a car bearing the label ‘’Made in Morocco.’’ The so-called Moroccan car is made up entirely of parts manufactured abroad. And, though the car seems perfectly assembled, it always ends up losing a race against competitors with the heart-felt drive to win.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.
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