France v Morocco and other World Cup news

Morocco's Youssef Ennesiri (centre) celebrates after scoring against Portugal on Saturday.
Morocco’s Youssef Ennesiri (centre) celebrates after scoring against Portugal on Saturday. (Martin Meissner/AP)

As Morocco progress towards the 2022 World Cup, we take a look at all the factors that set sail for the team.

To play a “home” tournament: It is cheaper and more convenient for African fans to travel to Doha than it was when the 2010 World Cup was held in South Africa. A Google search shows that flying from Douala to Doha is cheaper than flying to Johannesburg. The cheapest route from Casablanca to Johannesburg is via Doha.

Obtaining visas to host countries is a huge challenge for Africans, but Qatar also makes it easier. This accessibility helps turn neutral games into “home” games. It is no coincidence that African nations have performed their best at the World Cup since it was held in South Africa, echoing the pride and enthusiasm of their supporters.

No more “plumbers”: Historically, local coaches have not had development programs or opportunities at the highest level. In African football circles, these coaches are often referred to as “plumbers” – not quite a compliment. This resulted in African countries being led by European managers. But this trend is changing.

For the first time in history, all five African nations at the World Cup have been coached by their own nationals, and all have had some success to varying degrees.

The most successful was Morocco’s head coach Walid Regraj. What’s more, he was also one of the first coaches to receive a professional coaching license from the Confederation of African Football earlier this year. Before Regragui’s queue, any African manager wishing to earn a continental coaching badge had to travel to Europe or Asia to earn those qualifications.

Change your mindset: Cameroon FA president Samuel Eto’o was widely ridiculed when he predicted the final would be between Morocco and Cameroon.

After Morocco’s victory over Spain, Regraj made similar remarks. “Sometime in Africa we have to be ambitious, why not win the World Cup?”

Eto’o and Regragui spoke of a much-needed shift in the mindset of the African nation, who should be eager not only to participate but to compete at the top level. This positive mindset must be maintained if Africa’s performance is to continue to improve.

Morocco leads: After decades of football mediocrity, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FMRF), with the backing of King Mohammed VI, decided to overhaul the country’s football structure, investing in women’s football, developing it in schools and clubs, and establishing a national league Structure. This investment, along with a group of exceptional talent and the best coaches in Africa, catapulted Morocco into the semi-finals of the World Cup.

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