• Press review: Zim Warriors date Morocco

    THE Warriors will play Morocco in an international friendly match on November 16 in Agadir, Zifa announced last night.

    The national football team will be under the tutelage of Kalisto Pasuwa and will basically be made of Under-23 players in preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and possible hosting of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

    In a statement, Zifa said: “Zifa is pleased to announce that they have received a formal invitation from the Federation Royale Marocaine de Football for an international friendly match to be played at the Grand Stade de Agadir on the 16th of November 2014.”

    In a letter dated September 9 2014 and addressed to Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze, the Football Association of Morocco general secretary Tarik Najem wrote: “The Federation Royale Marocaine de Football is pleased to invite Zimbabwe for an International friendly between the two teams to be played at the Grand Stade de Agadir on the 16th of November 2014. We hope that we will conclude this opportunity with you with a transmission of the Fifa form as soon as possible,” Najem added.

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  • NT: Morocco trying to entice Leverkusen's Bellarabi

    Sept 12 (Reuters) - Morocco are bidding to entice Bayer Leverkusen's exciting winger Karim Bellarabi to their cause as they prepare to host next year's African Nations Cup, according to German media reports.

    Coach Badou Ezaki met with the 24-year-old, who has played for Germany at under-21 level but can still switch his allegiance if he applies to soccer's world governing body FIFA.

    Berlin-born Bellarabi has a Moroccan father, giving him dual nationality, and has not been capped in a competitive senior match which means he can change his international allegiance.

    He had a meeting with Ezaki on Thursday, the Bild newspaper reported on Friday.

    Morocco have long had a policy of seeking out players with Moroccan roots, born and based in Europe, for their national team and their current squad has players born in Belgium, Canada, France and the Netherlands.

    Last month, Bellarabi scored the fastest goal in the Bundesliga's 52-year history after nine seconds in Leverkusen's 2-0 win at Borussia Dortmund on the opening weekend of the season.

    Bellarabi returned to Leverkusen this term after a loan spell at Eintracht Braunschweig.

    Morocco host the Nations Cup finals from Jan. 17-Feb. 8.

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  • NT: Karim Bellarabi confirms readiness to defend the Moroccan jersey

    Rabat – Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi has reportedly agreed to defend the colors of the Moroccan national team following a meeting with Coach Badou Zaki who flew specifically to Germany to meet the 24-year-old.

    According to media reports, Bellarabi, who played for Germany’s under-21 team, had a meeting with the Atlas Lions coach Badou Ezzaki in a café in the Castrop-Rauxel area where the winger has confirmed his readiness to represent Morocco.

    Bellarabi’s name was suddenly on everybody’s lips when he scored last August the fastest goal in the history of German Bundesliga against Borussia Dortmund just 9 seconds after the starting whistle. He scored three goals in all competitions so far, including a goal in the UEFA champions League play-offs.

    Morocco, Germany and Ghana all wanted Bellarabi to pledge his international future for them. He was born to a German mother and a Moroccan father, and his step-father is from Ghana.

    According to German Sports newspaper BILD, Badou Zaki will be in the BayArena stadium on Friday to watch the pacey winger in action when hosts Bayer Leverkusen play against Werder Bremen.

    Following the meeting with Zaki, the winger is now expected to be named in the Moroccan squad in October ahead of Central African Republic and Mauritania friendlies.

    http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/09/138943/karim-bellarabi-confirms-readiness-to-defend-the-moroccan-jersey/

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  • NT: Bellarabi opts for Morocco

    24-year-old Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Ballarabi has reportedly agreed to pledge his international future to Morocco.

    Bellarabi is the son of a German mother and a Moroccan father, but also has a Ghanaian step-father, making him eligible to play for the Black Stars as well.

    Bellarabi grabbed global attention last August when he scored the fastest ever goal in Bundesliga history after netting against Borussia Dortmund after just nine seconds on the opening day of the 2014/2015 season. He has since scored three goal in all competitions so far.

    With such an explosive early season, the former German under-21 international has attracted high interests from all three countries for his international future but it is the North African nation who appear to have won the race.

    Reports say Bellarabi recently had a fruitful meeting with the coach of the Atlas Lions Badou Zaki where he confirmed his readiness to join the side.

    The winger is expected to be named in the next Moroccan squad in October ahead of friendly games with Central African Republic and Kenya as the Atlas Lions seek to bolster their squad ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations.

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  • NT: The Atlas Lions will play friendlies with Zimbabwe and Benin in November

    (TheAtlasLions.com) As part of Morocco's warming up for the upcoming AFCON 2015 finals, The Atlas Lions will play friendlies with Zimbabwe and Benin in November 2014.

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  • NT: Kenya's Harambee Stars to play Morocco's Atlas Lions in friendly

    (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Harambee Stars will play against Morocco's Atlas Lions in a friendly international in Marrakech on Oct. 13.

    The Atlas Lions, who will be hosting the 2015 Africa Nations Cup finals, will be using the event to gauge their team's performance as they are not involved in the AFCON qualifying process.

    "I am happy we have been able to secure another international match with a big opponent. We want to utilize it to test several sets of players and playing patterns," said Harambee Stars head Coach Bobby Williamson.

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  • NT: ‘Munir would have played for Morocco’

    By Football Espana staff

    Mohammed El Haddadi has said that his son Munir would have played for Morocco if they had called first.

    The Barcelona youngster was born in Spain but is also eligible to play for Morocco, the country of his father’s birth, and made his La Roja debut in the 5-1 European Championship qualifier win over Macedonia on Monday.

    However, Mohammed told Onda Cero’s Primer Toque programme that his son would have represented whichever country had contacted him first.

    “My son said to me ‘father I don’t know what I’m going to do’. I told him to go with whoever calls you first.

    “They [Spain] called first and he went with them. If Morocco had called he would also have gone there. I’ve always said to him it is whoever opens the door first.

    “But I am very happy for him. I didn’t know he was going reach here and I didn’t think it would happen so fast, but it has happened and it went well.

    “I realised he had the talent to be a footballer when he went to Barcelona. The only thing I ask is that God helps him, nothing more,” he added.

    His son was equally delighted following the Macedonia win and insisted the decision to join up with Spain was his alone.

    “I feel very good. It’s a dream come true and now I must continue to work hard with my club. Playing for Spain was my decision and I’m very happy about that.

    “I don’t care what people say. I do what is best for me and that is this,” he told reporters.

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  • Zaki Badou: 'Morocco respect Munir El-Haddadi decision

    Moroccan boss Zaki Badou has insisted that the nation 'respect' Munir El-Haddadi's decision to play his international football for Spain.

    The 19-year-old, who has burst onto the scene at Barcelona this season, was born in Spain, but had been eligible to represent Morocco through his father.

    That is no longer an option for the attacker, however, after he made his competitive Spain debut in last night's Euro 2016 qualifier against Macedonia.

    "Patriotism can't be bought or rented out. You can't reject citizenship," he told reporters.

    "A while ago the Moroccan Football Federation contacted the player and his family with a view to him representing Morocco.

    "If he plays one game for Spain then there is no turning back. His decision needs to be respected."

    El-Haddadi is widely regarded as one of the best youngsters in European football.

    http://www.sportsmole.co.uk/football/spain/news/badou-morocco-respect-el-haddadi-decision_175798.html

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  • Benatia: I snubbed City and Chelsea

    Medhi Benatia has revealed that he rebuffed interest from Manchester City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid before joining Bayern Munich from Roma.

    The defender, who moved to the Bundesliga champions during the final days of the summer transfer window for around £20 million, said he wanted to win trophies with one of the "four best clubs in the world".

    He said he had not considered leaving Roma - where he had spent only a year - until Bayern came along, telling German magazine kicker: "I felt great at Roma right from the beginning.

    "We finished second, and all was great for me. I scored five goals and even captained the team. The people trusted me, and I did not think that I'd be leaving Rome.

    "But enquiries started coming in during the year, and I discussed them with the sporting director. Walter Sabatini told me that the club essentially wanted to keep me, but that they needed money so they might sell me.

    "We then agreed that I would either get an updated contract or that I would join a top club."

    Asked about the clubs interested in him, he replied: "Manchester City and Chelsea, but there were also enquiries from Barcelona and Real Madrid," before explaining that Bayern had got in touch when Javi Martinez was ruled out for up to seven months after being injured in the German Super Cup.

    "I did not want to miss out on that opportunity when Bayern voiced their interest," he explained. "I perceived the offer as a huge chance, and told Sabatini that I wanted to join Bayern.

    "Bayern are one of the top four clubs in the world. They play for every title year in, year out. You don't reject such an offer."

    He said the prospect of working with Pep Guardiola had also been a major factor in his decision, adding: "For a player, he is the best coach there is right now. He makes you better."

    Benatia is set to return to Rome in the Champions League in mid-October and said: "I was delighted about that draw, even if I know what I have to expect there. Whistles, insults - but that's the way it is."

    Read more at http://www.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/341737.html#IGc2Uh0GRiD3jd2f.99

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  • NT: Karim Bellarabi not paying attention to Morocco and Ghana reported interest

    (ESPN) Bayer Leverkusen attacker Karim Bellarabi wants to focus on his club football amid reports that Morocco and Ghana are both keen to secure his international future.

    Bellarabi, 24, got Leverkusen off to a flying start in the Bundesliga when he scored only nine seconds into the new campaign, before setting up teammate Stefan Kiessling to seal a 2-0 victory at Borussia Dortmund.

    Another goal, and another assist, followed against Hertha Berlin the next week, securing his side's second win of the season and sending them to the top of the table.

    Ahead of the new campaign, after returning from a loan stint at Eintracht Braunschweig, Bellarabi was close to leaving the club once again, only for new Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt to opt to keep the player.

    "A week into preseason, coach Roger Schmidt told me that Karim is going nowhere and staying," sporting director Rudi Voller was recently quoted as saying by Spox.

    There has been speculation that Bellarabi, a former Germany under-21 international, could receive a call-up from Nationalmannschaft coach Joachim Low in the near future.

    However, Morocco are also hoping to secure the attacker's international future alongside Ghana, Bild reported on Monday.

    Bellarabi is the son of a German mother and a Moroccan father, but also has a Ghanaian step-father, making him eligible to play for the Black Stars as well.

    "It's true, Karim is on our list, and we would love to have him in the national team -- if possible, for the African Nations Cup in January 2015," Ghana Football Association spokesman Ibrahim Sanne is quoted as saying by Bild.

    However, Bellarabi also spoke to the paper, saying: "Right now, my focus is solely on Leverkusen."

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