Herve Renard and the resurgent World Cup bound Morocco - FCNaija

Africa Focus By: Ikponmwosa Umweni | 13/11/2017

Herve Renard led side Morocco qualified for their fifth World Cup last Saturday after two decades with a 2-0 win over Cote d’Ivoire at Stade the Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan.

Morocco topped Group F after holding both Poland and England to goalless draws and beating Portugal 3–1. By doing so, they became the first African team to reach the second round in 1986 World Cup in Mexico with the former Africa Player of Year Badou Zaki, Abdelaziz Souleimani, Abdelkrim Merry "Krimau" and Mustafa El Haddaoui.

1998 runner-up, West Germany had a much harder time getting past Morocco, for whom goalkeeper Zaki had an outstanding game. North African held out until the 87th minute when Lothar Matthaus scored the only goal of the match with a free kick.

Atlas Lion of Morocco are set to feature at the Holy Grail of football in Russia next year after 20 years of struggle to make it to the prestigious tournament in world football after the golden generation of Mustapha Hadji, Youssef Chippo, Noureddine Naybet, Said Chibba, Salaheddine Bassirand Abdeljalil Hadda led by former France international Michel Henri.

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Morocco represents Africa very well despite not qualify from the Group in 1998 World Cup held in France. The North African side nearly made it to the knock-out round if it was not for the then defending champions Brazil strange loss to Norway the last match of the Group A. The Atlas Lions whitewashed Scotland with a 3-0 victory, drew with Norway and loss to tournament finalist Brazil saw amass four points from four games, just one point separates them from Norway.

Meanwhile, the Maghrebian side has since failed to make an impact in both the African scene and world stage after the eras of Hadji and Naybet fade away with no succession plan to integrate new players to the national team set-up which saw them miss four previous World Cups editions hosted by Korea/Japan, Germany, South Africa and Brazil.

Herve Renard was appointed coach of Morocco in February 2016 after the 49-year-old who became the first coach to win two Africa Cup of Nations titles with Zambia in 2012 and Cote d'Ivoire in 2015. The French-born manager Renard began his transformation of the Moroccan national side into a great unit as they started their World Cup campaign on poor note away to Gabon and home to Ivory Coast both end on a goalless draw before bouncing back with a 6-0 whitewash of Mali and stalemate draw in the return leg against Mali.

Morocco defeating Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang side Gabon 3-0 in Rabat before their deceiving game against Elephant of Cote d'Ivoire which they pull of a surprise victory in Abidjan which saw them having 12 points from six games winning three drawing three too.

Renard's men scored eleven goals conceding none they only team in World Cup qualifying this term does not give away goal in over the countries that are set to feature to in the most glamorous competition in world football next summer.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco called Renard and team captain Mehdi Benatia whom he congratulated for the landmark achievement. with French coach was crying as he was speaking to his royal highness. The king also addressed a congratulatory cable to the Moroccan victorious team.

The 26-man squad selected for the Ivory Coast game just seven were born in Morocco, with only five currently playing in the country. There are 10 players born in France included, plus six from the Netherlands, two from Spain and one from Canada.