CHAN: Opportunity to assess Morocco’s World Cup credentials - FCNaija

Africa Focus By: Lolade Adewuyi | 13/01/2018

Morocco kicked off the African Nations Championship (CHAN) with an emphatic 4-0 bashing of Mauritania at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on Saturday night.

The Atlas Lions waited until the second half to find a breakthrough with Ayoub El Kaabi scoring twice while Ismail Haddad and Achraf Bencharki each added one goal.

The opening game was witnessed by Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan as well as CAF president Ahmad Ahmad and Moroccan Royal Football Federation boss Fouzi Lekjaa.

The CHAN, a competition solely for players in domestic leagues on the continent, is a 16-nation tournament that will be played in four cities. Following the opening game in Casablanca, the other cities that will host matches are Marrakech, Agadir and Tangier.

After falling out of favour on the continent following the CAF decision to strip the country of its hosting rights of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations due to fears over the spread of the Ebola virus, Morocco has recently returned into the good times.

Wydad Casablanca won the CAF Champions League last year as Morocco also qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, their first since 1998.

The country is still on standby to host the 2019 AFCON if Cameroon is adjudged incapable of staging the bigger 24-team tournament.

The main agenda for Morocco as it seeks to play a bigger role in continental and global football is its bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

With the tournament being extended to a 48-team event in 2026, Morocco will face joint the bid from favourites USA, Canada and Mexico when FIFA finally decides on a date for selecting the hosts.

According to SportsPro, Morocco has appointed London agency Vero Communications to spearhead the international communications and strategy for the bid. Vero Communications was involved in the successful Paris 2024 Olympics bid.

While Morocco has received the backing of CAF for the 2026 bid, the success of the 2018 CHAN will prove how well the Moroccan World Cup bid will fare.

Expect any failings on Morocco’s part to be exploited by the American media.