World Cup 2018 Preview: Morocco

Morocco returns to the World Cup after a 20-year absence without conceding once during qualification.

Nickname(s): The Atlas Lions, Mountakhab

Best Finish: Last 16 (1986)

How they qualified: Morocco booked their place at Russia 2018 with a convincing 2-0 victory over fellow Group C contenders Ivory Coast to finish the group stage undefeated. The feat was made all the more remarkable by the fact that they didn’t concede a single goal during qualification.

Coach: Herve Renard

The 49-year-old took charge of the Atlas Lions in February 2016. The Frenchman’s international experience includes leading Ivory Coast to the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2015, three years after winning it with Zambia. Domestically, however, after leaving Les Elephants to take over at French club Lille, he was sacked just a few months later. After helping Morocco reach the 2018 World Cup, he was handed a new contract until 2022.

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Key Man: Medhi Benatia

The Juventus defender formed a crucial part of Morocco’s impenetrable defense during qualifications. Born in Courcouronnes in France, the French National Team approached the center back but the 30-year-old opted to play for the Mountakhab. Benatia has carved out a formidable reputation in European football via stints with Udinese, Roma, and Bayern Munich. He was also named in the CAF team of the year in 2013 and 2014.

Opening fixtures:

15 June vs Iran

20 June vs Portugal

25 June vs Spain

Squad: TBD

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