17 years on, Morocco bid to become Africa’s surprise package

By Rachael Ugiagbe

Morocco will be attempting to qualify for the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations after 18 years, when the qualifiers for the 2018 AWCON in Ghana begins.

The North Africa nation last participated at the continental championship at the 1998 finals in Nigeria and the 2000 showpiece in South Africa.

They lost out to Mali in round one qualifiers en route to the 2016 edition in Cameroon but there seems to be a plan in place for the country women’s football team to qualify for continental and global competitions.

“We set up teams for all age categories,” Laila Youssfi, head of women’s football, told FIFA.com.

“Since the arrival of President Fouzi Lekjaa and the appointment of Nasser Larguet as national technical director, interest in women’s football has grown.

“We formed a U-17 team, which played in the qualifiers for Jordan 2016, and a U-20 team. We have an adult league in Morocco, but we don’t yet have one for the U-17 and U-20 levels.”

On their mission to be at the 2018 Nations Cup, which serves as an automatic slot for the best top three finishers; the Moroccan ladies will be guided by the experienced coach Karim Bencherifa.

“For the seniors, there’ll be two national training camps in May: one for the pre-selection of players and one for the final selection,” he explained.

“The overall goal is to be ready for the international challenges to come, such as the Cup of Nations qualifiers and the World Cup.

He went on: “As well as the existence of a national adult league and a national U-16 cup tournament, and some other initiatives, we have also started to hold preparatory training camps for the U-17, U-20 and senior national women’s sides.”

The National team and league clubs will also be getting major financial backing as  players are set to earn as much as €400 monthly, excluding match win bonuses which could go up to €50 per game. In addition, some are offered employment in administrative roles to supplement income.

Morocco are currently ranked 69th on the FIFA Women’s World rankings and eighth in Africa.

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