Morocco will be making their second appearance on the global stage when the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2023 gets under way in Indonesia this November.
The North Africans find themselves in a challenging group alongside host nation Indonesia, Ecuador and Panama.
Despite that, coach Said Chiba’s side have high hopes of advancing to the knockout phase, given their impressive performance last May during the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria.
How did Morocco qualify?
The Atlas Cubs secured their place at the U-17 World Cup by finishing runners-up at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, which was held in Algeria earlier this year. Morocco topped their group, which included Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia, with six points, before defeating hosts Algeria 3-0 in the quarters and Mali in the semis after a penalty shootout. They would eventually go down 2-1 to Senegal in the final, despite leading until the 80th minute.
The coach: Said Chiba
Said Chiba enjoyed a distinguished playing career, including winning more than 40 caps for Morocco, before moving to the dugout. He started his coaching journey at Qatar Sports Club and then worked as Ezzaki Badou’s assistant with the Morocco senior team. He later had spells with Moroccan clubs Chabab Rif Al-Hoceima, Nahdat Zemamra and Olympique Safi before assuming his current role.
Said Chiba has demonstrated exceptional skill when it comes to nurturing young players, shielding them from pressure during the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria, and guiding his team to the final with insightful tactics. He has also managed to deftly combine local talents with those coming from Europe, forming a well-balanced and physically adept team poised to make an impact in Indonesia.
One to watch: Taha Benrhozil
The Atlas Cubs boast a wide pool of emerging talents who could soon feature prominently in the senior national team. Players like defender Abdelhamid Ait Boudlal and striker Zakaria Ouazane have been generating quite a buzz, as has goalkeeper Taha Benrhozil. The latter has consistently been showcasing his skills with the national team and played a pivotal role in their U-17 World Cup qualification, particularly during the thrilling penalty shootout triumph over Mali in the semi-finals.
Despite his youth, this Mohammed VI Academy player possesses exceptional composure and quick reflexes, and Said Chiba will almost certainly be calling on him to safeguard Morocco’s goal in Indonesia.
Morocco’s record at the FIFA U-17 World Cup
Morocco have participated in the U-17 World Cup only once before, in 2013. During that edition, they topped a group including Uzbekistan, Croatia and Panama (who they will face again in this edition). They bowed out in the round of 16 after succumbing to Côte d’Ivoire.
Did you know?
Sofyan Amrabat and Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti both represented Morocco at the U-17 World Cup a decade ago. The pair went on to feature at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and played pivotal roles in the Atlas Lions’ historic semi-final qualification – a landmark achievement for African and Arab football.
Morocco’s U-17 World Cup Group A fixtures
- November 10Panama v Morocco (16:00 local time – Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium)
- November 13Morocco v Ecuador (16:00 local time – Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium)
- November 16Morocco v Indonesia (19:00 local time – Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium)