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Morocco’s Atlas Lions Coach Unveils List Ahead of CAN 2021 Qualifiers

The continued absence of Hamdalah and the added value of El-Arabi are set to be some of the main talking points as Morocco and its Bosnian coach prepare for the CAN qualifiers.

Rabat – Ahead of the CAN 2021 qualifiers against Mauritania and Burundi on November 15 and 19, respectively, head coach of Morocco’s Atlas Lions Vahid Halilhodzic has made public his 24-name list for the two games.

The two upcoming matches mark the start of the serious, consequence-bearing stuff for Halilhodzic, with the Bosnian coach having been appointed to lead the Atlas Lions in their struggle to emerge from the painful memories of a disastrous outing at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Halilhodzic, who is searching for a working formula to honor the terms of his contract with the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), made notable changes to the pool of players he called upon for the underwhelming friendlies in the past weeks.

The implication of the changes being that, after the languid outings in the friendly games, the Atlas Lions and their Bosnian head coach are still not settled on the flow and rhythm Moroccan fans are expecting from a team visibly battling to definitely leave behind the fresh wounds of CAN 2019, as well as the continued legacy of consistently, sometimes  inexplicably, punching below their weight when taking part in major tournaments.

Shalke 04’s attacking midfielder Amin Harit, and Abderrazak Hamdallah, the top scorer of the Saudi league, are two notable absentees from the list of players for the November 15 and 19 games.

Meanwhile, Olympiakos’ Youssefl El-Arabi, who has not been active for the Atlas Lions in a very long time but whose recent performances in the Greek league and the European Champions League have made headlines in Moroccan media, is back with the Moroccan Lions.

Halilhodzic understandably expects El-Arabi to avail his experience and currently impressive shape to mend the Moroccan Lions’ lack of inspiration in front of goal.

But whether the Olympiakos striker can replicate his sensational club form to remedy Morocco’s notable goal scoring issue remains to be seen. In any case, the continued absence of Hamdalah and the added value of El-Arabi are set to be some of the main talking points as the Moroccan team prepares for the next challenges.

Here is the full list of Halildhodzic’s 24 Atlas Lions:

Goalkeepers:

Mounir El Kajoui (Malaga, Spain); Yassine Bounou (Sevilla, on loan from Girona, Spain); Anas Zniti (Raja of Casablanca, Morocco).

Defenders: 

Yunis Abdelhamid (Stade de Reims, France); Romain Saïss (Wolverhampton, England); Badr Benoun (Raja of Casablanca, Morocco); Zouhair Feddal (Betis Sevilla, Spain); Achraf Hakimi (Borussia Dortmund, Germany); Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherland); Hamza Mendyl (Dijon, France); Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahçe, Turkey).

Midfielders:

Selim Amallah (Standard de Liege, Belgium); Sofyan Amrabat (Hellas Verona, Italy); Fayçal Fajr (Getafe, Spain); Adel Taarabt (Benfica Lisbonne, Portugal); Yahia Jabrane (Wydad of Casablanca); Omar El Kaddouri (PAOK, Greece).

Forwards:

Rachid Alioui (Angers, France); Nordin Amrabat (Al-Nasr, Saudi Arabia); Youssef En-Nesyri (Leganes, Spain); Oussama Idrissi (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands);  Hakim Ziyech (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), Sofiane Boufal (Southampton, England), Youssef El Arabi (Olympiakos, Greece).