African Football

Renard includes El Kaabi as he names 23-man Morocco World Cup squad

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Morocco coach Herve Renard included Ayoub El Kaabi,Nabil Dirar, and Younes Belhanda   in his 23-man World Cup squad on Thursday but omitted Southampton  midfielder  Sofiane Boufal.

The 24-year-old El Kaabi, who plays for Moroccan club Renaissance Berkane, was top scorer at this year’s African Nations Championship(CHAN) and has been hitting goals for his club at the CAF Champons League group stage matches.

Boufal scored two goals this season in 26 Premier League games but has been struggling for playing time recently following a row with Southampton manager Mark Hughes.

 Striker Rachid Alioui , who has undergone surgery on a torn hamstring, also misses out.

Alioui has enjoyed a remarkable season with Nimes, helping the club gain promotion to the French top flight with 17 goals and four assists. He was injured last week.

A versatile midfielder now with Fenerbahce , Dirar was a key element of the Monaco side that won Ligue 1 last season. Belhanda also played in the French league for several seasons before joining Galatasaray last summer.

Morocco opens its World Cup campaign on June 15 against Iran.Portugal and Spain  are also in its group.

Morocco Squad:

Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia),Yassine Bounoi  (Girona), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti  (Ittihad Tanger)

Defenders: Mehdi Benatia (Juventus), Romain Saiss(Wolverhampton Wanderers), Manuel Da Costa (Basaksehir), Badr Benoun (Raja Casablanca), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid),Hamza Mendyl (Lille)

Midfielders: M’bark Boussoufa (Al Jazira), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord),Youssef Ait Bennaser (Caen), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray),Faycal Fajr  (Getafe),Amine Harit (Schalke)

Forwards: Khalid Boutaib (Malatyaspor), Aziz Bouhaddouz(St. Pauli), Ayoub El Kaabi (Renaissance Berkane),Nordin Amrabat  (Leganes), Mehdi Carcela (Standard Liege), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax).

About Collins Okinyo

Appointed by CAF President Dr.Ahmad as CAF Media Expert. An expert on African football with over 13 years experience ,always with an ear to the ground with indepth knowledge of the game. I have worked for top publications including 7 years at www.supersport.com until i founded www.soka25east.com to quench the thirst of football lovers across the continent. I have trained young upcoming journalists who are now a voice in African football.I have covered World Cup,AFCON,CHAN,Champions League,Confederations Cup,Cecafa,Cosafa,Wafu and many other football tournaments across the World. Founder Football Africa Arena(FAA),Founder www.afrisportdigital.com

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