Rabat – Bordeaux Football Club’s attacking midfielder Yassine Ben Rahou has declared himself available for a spot in Morocco’s national football team.
The decision means the 20-year-old player, born of an Algerian mother and a Moroccan father, is formally closing the doors to Algeria’s request that he play for the Algerian Desert Foxes.
According to reports in the Algerian media, Rahou has been on the radar of the Algerian football federation for months. It is also understood that the player’s mother wanted him to play for the Algerian team.
But Rahou’s decision will only be effective and irreversible once he actually plays for Morocco. According to FIFA regulations, a player can switch allegiances whenever he wishes, unless he has played in an official match for a given country’s national squad.
Rahou’s decision comes as Morocco’s newly appointed Bosnian coach, Vahid Halilhodzic, is in a teambuilding mindset.
In his first press conference as Atlas Lions coach on September 5, the Bosnian complained about the lack of intensity and drive in Morocco’s recent performances in major tournaments.
Halilhodzic said he will be calling players to the team based on their shape at the time of selection rather than on past performance or familiarity with other players on the team. There have been suggestions that the Bordeaux midfielder has already caught Halilhodzic’s eyes and is on the Bosnian’s agenda for the two upcoming friendly games against Libya and Gabon in October.
After losing to Algeria in the scramble for rising AC Milan and African football star Ismael Bennacer, who was also born of a Moroccan father and an Algerian mother, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has been relentless in its new strategy to convince players to choose the Atlas Lions.
The past weeks have also seen a feud between the Moroccan and Dutch federations in their quest to win the heart of Dutch football sensation Mohammed Ihattaren.