The president of the Moroccan Football Association, Faouzi Lekjaa, explained that the dismissal of the head coach of the national team, the Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, was caused by his tendency to exclude important players from the team, while expressing his commitment to appoint a new coach before the finals this month.
“The national team cannot exclude high-level Moroccan players who play in teams around the world, whatever the reason,” Lekjaa said in an interview with the Spanish news agency Efe. This is how the fans and the players felt”.
On Thursday, the Moroccan Federation announced in a statement the termination of the contract of Halilhodzic, who coached the national team in August 2019, by mutual agreement between the two parties due to “differences” in the preparation of the team for the 2022 World Cup. in Qatar.
No to the exclusion of players
When asked about the reasons for the termination of Halilhodzic’s contract, Lekjaa replied: “(The players and the public) did not understand the reason for excluding the players who participated with the national team for six or seven years with the national team and depriving them of to represent the team. National selection.”
He continued: “There was also a neglect in improving the association of the players with their technical team and motivating them to give their best, which is the main role of the coach. This created a feeling of indifference. In a fraternal environment, it was necessary to explain to him to Wahid that the Moroccans are getting tired of his philosophy. It was necessary for each one to follow their own path with head held high in this period of important victories”.
As for the challenges facing the new coach, Lekjaa explained: “In addition to preparing the team for the World Cup. Our objectives are clear. Qualification for the World Cup and the African Cup of Nations is not negotiable.”
“Since we are the second team in Africa (behind Senegal, according to the FIFA ranking), we must reach the final of the African Cup of Nations. We have a year to prepare for this event, which will take place in January 2024 in the Ivory Coast.”
Lekjaa, a member of the FIFA and Confederation of African Football (CAF) councils, explained that Halilhodzic took charge of the team when it was going through a “transition period between generations” and many of its players had retired, and his task was to rebuild a strong and competitive team with new players.
He stressed that the Bosnian coach played his role “to the fullest” and in a “very acceptable” way, and continued: “Now if you ask me if he could have done better, I answer yes, especially in 2021.” African Cup of Nations in Cameroon”.
Successes of Moroccan football.
When asked about the many successes achieved by Moroccan football this year, Lekjaa commented: “The return of Moroccan football on a continental and world level is not something that concerns only this year, but it is a continuous comeback that started a long time ago. . In 2022, Moroccan clubs achieved maximum success: NB Berkane won the Confederation Cup (African Football Confederation) and Wydad Casablanca in the CAF Champions League. The two teams will play the African Super Cup on September 10”.
“In previous years, the Moroccan teams that participated in various African tournaments always won one or two titles, and those that did not reach the semi-finals. This return confirms that the Moroccan team won the African Cup of Nations (in which only players from the local leagues of their countries of origin participate) for two consecutive editions (2018 and 2020).
He added: “In addition, the first team qualified for the World Cup for the second time in a row, maintaining the same level in the last eight years, which makes it 22nd in the FIFA ranking. In addition, two women’s football teams qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup (India 2022) and the Women’s World Cup (Australia/New Zealand 2023).