Home » Wydad on brink of completing Morocco’s fantastic year

Wydad on brink of completing Morocco’s fantastic year

by Lesley Ngwa
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Wydad Casablanca of Morocco will face African continental giants, Al Ahly of Egypt, in the return leg of the 2022/2023 CAF Champions League final scheduled to hold this Sunday, June 11.

The game program for the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca will be the final bend for team Al Ahly which will be in the last phase of its mission to revenge defeat to Wydad during last season’s finale of the same competition.
The Egyptians, record 10-time winners of the competition, won the first leg 2-1 in Cairo.

For Wydad, Sunday’s fixture will offer them the golden opportunity to grab their third CAF Champions League trophy in six years and their fourth of all time. The club won its first trophy in the competition in 1992 after beating Sudan’s Al Hilal in the final of what was then the African Cup of Champions Club competition.

Beyond the quest for club glory between Al Ahly and Wydad, the Casablanca battle which will be expected to produce memorable scenes at the traditionally beehive-like Mohammed V Stadium, will mean more for Moroccan football fans in particular and sports fans in general.

It will be a huge defining moment for Moroccan football whose successes in recent times have left fans across the continental urging their football federations and associations to adopt what they describe as the “Moroccan footballing template”.

Fantastic year

A victory for Wydad Sunday will crown what has been a fantastic, memorable year for Morocco.
The envisaged success will add up to massive successes recorded by Moroccans in continental and planetary football since July last year which has seen the country excelling in the FIFA World Cup, the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and several age-category football tournaments in Africa.

The North Africans kick-started the much-applauded run during the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations staged in their own backyard in July 2022.

In July 2022, Morocco reached the finals of the WAFCON

Before the 2022 event, the Moroccan women’s national team, the Atlas Lionesses, had qualified for the final phase of the WAFCON competition just twice; the 1998 and 2000 editions where they were eliminated in the group stages.

They qualified for the 2022 event due to their status as hosts and later went on to excel in the competition.

The team knocked out record 11-time winners in the course of the tournament and ended their campaign in the biennial African women’s football festival as runners-up behind an impressively in-form South African Bayana Bayana team.

The team also qualified for the final phase of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, their first qualification ticket for the global women’s football come together.

Morocco reach first World Cup final

That performance and record at the WAFCON, for a team that had not featured in the event in 23 years, had fans and pundits dreaming, with a section of them describing the feat as a solid foundation for the women’s game in the North African country.

Memorable Qataris Mundial

Fast-forward to November 2022. Four months after the 2022 WAFCON, Morocco secures another landmark achievement during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

This time, it was a record cherished by almost the entire African continent, perhaps except for a few die-hard fans Cameroonian, Ghana and Senegalese fans whose prestigious records were shattered, or Algerian fans who have their issues with the neighboring Moroccans.

Morocco headed to Qatar for the World Cup, like most African teams, as a traditional underdog. They however fought the odds to reach the semifinal phase of the planetary football jamboree. This, more excitingly so, under the leadership of an African coach, a national, Walid Regragui.

Soccer Football – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – Group F – Belgium v Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar – November 27, 2022 Morocco coach Walid Regragui celebrates after the match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The feat made the Moroccans the first African team to reach the last four of the Mundial, beating the record left behind by the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, the Senegalese Terenga Lions and the Black Stars of Ghana in 1990, 2002 and 2010 respectively.

The record also brightened Morocco’s shining stars on the world map and had fans dreaming for more in smooth testimony of what went down and continues to be a memorable and fantastic moment for football fans in the country.

Promising U17 AFCON

Morocco’s fantastic run of form in the last months did not end in Qatar. The country consolidated the form across other junior competitions. Lead amongst them, is the U17 Africa Cup of Nations organized by neighboring Algeria.

The country had an excellent campaign in the Algeria event. The Moroccans ended the series as runners-up after losing the final game to current continental serial killers, Senegal. That defeat pained a few fans. But to many, it highlighted what might be a bright future for Moroccan football.

Morocco had its rough moments in the last moments. The country withdrew from the 2022 African Nations Championship staged in Algeria this year due to political reasons.

The above analysis also reveals the country failed to emerge overall winners in any of the three cited competitions. Those failures have left a section of fans failing to notice the country’s impressive year. Also, particularly so due to Senegal’s overriding domination.

However, a more reasonable number of fans and pundits, quantity and quality-wise, are unanimous that the North Africans had an impressive last year.

The Atlas Lionesses secured a maiden World Cup qualification ticket during WAFCON 2022

Many have called on their national sports federations to adopt the Moroccan template which includes proper development systems including well-structured academies and facilities.

Doing so, they believe, will guide their country toward achieving a similar amount of success like the Moroccans who of course, may have a sweet-sweet ending to their fantastic year in case Wydad beats Al Ahly to the CAF Champions League crown Sunday.

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