International Friendly: Morocco V. Northern Ireland
The Moroccan National Team is in Belfast and ready to take on Northern Ireland, in an international friendly match ahead of the CAN-2012 qualifier against neighboring Algeria. This will be the first opportunity for new coach Eric Gerets to assess his selection, a test match of sorts for the legendary Belgian boss.
the Atlas Lions’ next official match against the Fennec Foxes of Algeria will take place in March 2011. But before the preparations commence, Eric Gerets would like to add the final touches to his training blueprint. Time is no doubt of the essence. The Belgian headman has preferred to retain most of same players who have featured in the last three matches under assistant coach Dominique Cuperly. However, in addition to longstanding keeper Nadir Lamyaghri, an apt backup has finally entered the fray. Ahmed Mohamedina the goalkeeping denizen of Olympique Khouribga Mohamedin has been called and will be on guard, lest anything happens with Lamyaghri. Among the domestic Moroccan Botola league players, only two Raja Casablanca or Rajaouis will travel, Morad Ainy and Rachid Soulaimani were selected from the group and should play tomorrow.
Regarding overseas selections, two fresh recruits arrive in the form of Nacer Chadli (FC Twente) and Younis Belhanda (Montpellier). If most observers are to be believed, these two players are rapidly developing, hence the quick callup from Gerets. Indeed, Nacer Chadli is coming off a memorable stretch in the Dutch league as well as in the Champions League, whilst Younis Belhanda was voted by player of the month of October by Montpellier supporters.
One player to keep an eye on is Adil Hermach (RC Lens). The young defensive midfielder has been on fire at Lens, anchoring the midfield whilst ascending to the captain’s armband for the French northern giants.
On another note, Franco-Moroccan defender Younes Kaboul (Tottenham) has chosen to play for the French National Team and will feature in Les Bleus friendly tomorrow against England. Eric Gerets was interested in the strong center-half but France boss Laurent Blanc apparently beat him to the punch.
The Northern Irish clash, the first with Gerets on the bench, will also take stock of the homogeneity born out in the starting eleven.
If the Moroccan NT is full of talent, one of its notable weaknesses is its lack of cohesion and chemistry at the moment. This glaring deficit has penalized the Atlas Lions in the past few years and the problem persists. Finding the right formula to bring about said cohesion is one of the main priorities of the new coach. “I will never accept players who do not fight for the entire squad,” he recently warned at a press conference held in the beach town of Skhirate in northern Morocco.
And so, the Gerets era finally begins.
The National Squad: Lamyagri, Chadli, Chamakh, Kharja, Kantari, Kaddouri, Benatia, Hermach, Souleimani, Belhanda, Hadji, Mohammedina, Ainy, Benzoukane, El arabi, Berrabeh, Salamat, El Ahmadi, Serhane, El Zhar
Injuries: Mbarak Boussoufa, Michaël Basser Chrétien, Mounir El Hamdaoui and Adel Taarabt are all out with varying injuries.
Viewing Options: Broadcast at 20:45 GMT on SkySports2 and RTM1.
Streaming here: http://www.myp2p.eu/broadcast.php?matchid=95156&part=sports
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