Qatar 2022, Morocco’s secret? The “Academies of the King”: that’s what they are


Qatar 2022, Morocco’s secret?  The “Academies of the King”: that’s what they are
Written by aquitodovale

Daniel Dell’Orco

In Africa it is unmatched. Larguet’s right-hand man, Rabie Takassa, moved to Spain to forge relationships with players who play in La Liga and lower leagues and precept them, as happened to ex-Siena Zouahir Feddal for example. This system has allowed the country to produce talent in quantity, such as the star Hakim Ziyech of Chelsea, Sofyan Amrabat of Fiorentina, Achraf Hakimi of PSG and Nous The Morocco national team is a Cinderella, but up to a point. At the World Cup in Qatar, it became the African team to have played the best group stage ever in a world cup: 7 points and first place, in a group that included runners-up world champions Croatia and Belgium, third placed in Russia 2018. What’s more, they reached the quarterfinals for the first time in their history, beating none other than Spain.

However, we like to think of it as a kind of fairy tale, but the history of Morocco is so much more. It has world-class talent in its team and has more than ten years of technical revolution behind it.

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To understand today’s results, we need to go back at least to 2009, when the King’s Academy network was founded in Morocco, the bodies responsible for finding young Moroccan talents eligible for the national team among the 40 million inhabitants. But that’s not all, because even in that large diaspora of migrants scattered all over the world, and especially in Europe, it was possible to fish and how.

Over the years, many of them have come under the watchful eye of Nasser Larguet, current technical director of Saudi Arabia (out of the group but protagonist of the great victory against Argentina), previously head of Marseille’s youth sector. It was he who launched a research project capable of founding the new course of Moroccan football and the aforementioned academy, inaugurated by the king himself outside Rabat for an investment of 13 million euros (and in the rest of the country 500 new pitches have been built in the last 10 years for Bayern’s CÄT sair Mazraoui All together today they are worth 300 million But despite having many stars, Walid Regragui was essential to enhance them also in the national team, the coach recruited in August 2021 after winning the African Champions with Wydad Casablanca (the second Moroccan coach to lift this trophy). When he took the place of the Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic in his homeland, many were skeptical. They called him “mr avocado” because of his baldness. But now everyone has changed his mind.

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With his mix of speed, physicality and counter-attack, combined with a truly strong patriotic sense: goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, making his debut in Qatar, was so excited that after singing the national anthem he felt dizzy and had to sit down on the bench. Thus the group became more united than ever. Ziyech himself is an example of this, given that he had broken with his predecessor who accused him of little commitment to the shirt while now with Regragui he is practically one with the Moroccan jersey. The rest is being done by the obsessive preparation symbolized by the victory on penalties against Roja. Before Qatar 2022, Luis Enrique had declared: «I told my players to get to the World Cup with a thousand penalties kicked in training. I’m not a lottery, it’s about skill.” That’s right, in fact Morocco won. With the part of the hero played by Bounou (known as Bono), who hasn’t had any more vertigo and saved two penalties (in addition to Sarabia’s post). But he and his defense are solid even in regulation minutes, given that the own goal by teammate Nayef Aguerd in the third group match against Canada (won 2-1) is the only goal conceded by Bono, unbeaten in the other games played in Qatar against Croatia and precisely Spain. Someone has already recalled Zaccardo’s own goal, the unbeatable Buffone and Italy’s triumph in 2006.

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