The Atlas Lions of Morocco finished second at the 14th edition of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) following their 2-1 defeat to Senegal in Sunday’s final, but this generation of players who made history owe it all to the King Mohammed VI Academy.
Before this tournament Morocco’s best result was a fourth-place finish during the 2013 U17 AFCON. But this time around, despite the diplomatic obstacles faced in the build up the cub were able to show what they are made up of.
The ultra moderate infrastructure put in place by the celebrated leader His Majesty King Mohammed VI, with undiluted passion for investment in the growth of the game produced a bulk of the players Morocco took to the tournament – most of whom were regulars.
The over 30 hectares jewel that went operational over a decade ago has created huge impact on the destiny of Moroccan Football, making the country a hotbed of talents.
Morocco charged towards the final for the first time in eight participation and any football person could easily see the character of well-built potential greats all over the team.
To make it even more glaring, Ait Boudlal who has spent the past four of his 17 years on earth at the reference Mohamed VI Academy put his country ahead in the game.
Despite the pressure from the West Africans in the Lions derby on Friday at the Nelson Mandela stadium in Baraki, Morocco looked to be cruising to glory before Senegal scored twice in quick succession through Serigne Fallou Diouf from the spot and Mamadou Savané win it by 2-1.
Though the Moroccan boys didn’t win the trophy, they did the essential by qualifying for the World Cup and brought their nation to the best ever point at the tournament in just their third appearance.
The fact that Morocco eliminated nations that have players from some of the best football academies from the continent and beyond highlights the quality that is being produced at the great Mohammed VI Academy in Casablanca, Morocco.
Enter The Mohammed VI Football Academy in Rabat.
— Ole Teya (@TeyaKevin) March 27, 2023
His Majesty King Mohammed VI has certainly reshaped the destiny of Moroccan Football.
The likes of En-Nesyri, Nayef Aguerd, Azzedine Ounahi are proud ex students of the Academy who played a key role in Morocco’s journey to the semi-final during the last FIFA World Cup.
It's now been 10 years since the first class of Académie Mohammed VI graduated. The national academy project, inaugurated by the King, has produced the likes of Youssef En-Nesyri, Azeddine Ounahi and Nayef Aguerd – all crucial for #MAR this tournament. pic.twitter.com/SaFV3oopxp
— Maghrib Foot (@MaghribFoot) December 10, 2022
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