Rabat – Morocco’s Atlas Lions coach Vahid Halilhodzic has included Moroccan-Spanish striker Munir El Haddadi in the 24-player squad of the national team.
Halilhodzic unveiled the list during a press conference Thursday afternoon at the headquarters of the Moroccan Royal Football Federation (FRMF) in Rabat.
The selected squad is set to play two friendly games against Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo on October 9 and October 13, respectively.
This is the first time Munir El Haddadi will join the training camp of the Atlas Lions since he declined Morocco’s invitation and opted to play for Spain in 2014.
Having played a few minutes with the Spanish national team, El Haddadi was unable to switch his athletic allegiance and play for Morocco despite his change of heart in recent years.
However, a new rule sponsored by the FRMF and recently approved at the 70th FIFA Congress now allows players to change their affiliation and play for a different national team. Eligibility requirements include playing less than three games with their initial country of affiliation, among others.
In recent years, Munir El Haddadi has regularly expressed his desire to play for Morocco. He considered his choice to play for Spain in 2014 as a “youth mistake.”
Next week, the 25-year-old forward, currently playing for Spanish club Sevilla FC, will finally have the opportunity to wear the Atlas Lions jersey and represent Morocco’s colors.
However, El Haddadi will have to prove himself as an important asset for the Atlas Lions, especially as public opinion is divided between those who support his decision to switch allegiance to Morocco and those who consider it as an opportunist move.
Many commentators on social media suggest that Munir El Haddadi only expressed the desire to play for Morocco because he did not earn a regular spot with the Spanish national team.
While October’s friendlies will be his first time wearing green and red, El Haddadi will play alongside two familiar faces. Coach Halilhodzic has also called up El Haddadi’s teammates at Sevilla FC, striker Youssef En-Nesyri and goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
The full squad list includes 23 Atlas Lions playing for European clubs and only one player from an African club. Halilhodzic did not summon any players from Moroccan clubs in order to avoid disturbing the continuity of the local league Botola Pro, especially as it nears its end, scheduled in two weeks.
Atlas Lions squad
The full list of players summoned for the friendlies against Senegal and the Democractic Republic of Congo is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Munir El Kajoui (Hatayspor) and Yassine Bounou (Sevilla FC).
Wingers: Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax Amsterdam), Issam Chebake (Yeni Malatyaspor), Hamza Mendyl (FC Schalke 04), and Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce SK).
Defenders: Soufiane Chakla (Villarreal CF), Samy Mmaee (Sint-Truidense VV), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Zouhair Feddal (Sporting CP), and Nayef Aguerd (Stade Rennais FC).
Midfielders: Nassim Boujellab (FC Schalke 04), Sofyan Amrabat (AFC Fiorentina), Driess Saddiki (Willem II Tilburg), Omar El Kaddouri (PAOK Thessaloniki), Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt), Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea FC), Oussama Tannane (Vitesse Arnhem), and Selim Amallah (Standard Liege).
Attackers: Moha Rharsalla (Slovan Bratislava), Youssef El Arabi (Olympiacos Piraeus), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla FC), Zakaria Labyad (Ajax Amsterdam), Achraf Bencharki (Zamalek SC), Munir El Haddadi (Sevilla FC), and Achraf Hakimi (Inter Milan).