It has been 37 years since Morocco last won the Cup of Nations, an astonishing longueur for a nation which was prominently tagged ‘The Brazil of Africa’ after impressively displaying their own interpretation of jogo bonito at the 1986 World Cup. But with an incessant supply of highly-rated French-born and Dutch-born talent, particularly attacking midfielders, filtering through to the Moroccan team, these are somewhat salivating times for the Atlas Lions. With a few more additions in the full squad, primarily in the backline, there is no reason why they can’t become one of the top teams in the world or even win the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil in 2015; relinquishing their position in the principal peloton of Africa’s perennial bottlers.
Yet the assimilation of the superabundance of foreign-born attacking midfielders into African football has been an arduous process. Under Eric Gerets, the struggle to accommodate nearly all of their attacking midfielders into a single line-up left Morocco too top heavy, and ultimately cost the Belgian his job in the wake of the 2-0 defeat to Mozambique in the first leg of the play-offs. A the-whole-world-is-against-me feeling in the foreign-born/foreign-bred footballers has come to the fore as they’ve attempted to acclimatise to the climates and bobbly pitches they’re not accustomed to.