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World Cup '94 : WORLD CUP USA '94 / GROUP F PREVIEW : Morocco at a Glance

June 12, 1994|Grahame L. Jones

* COACH: Abdellah Ajri.

* KEY PLAYERS: Mustapha Hadji, Mustapha El Haddaoui, Khalil Azmi.

* STRENGTHS: The heat should not be a problem, anyway. Midfielder Hadji, 22, is being hailed as the team's player of the future, while El Haddaoui is the only survivor from the successful 1986 squad. Goalkeeper Azmi was good enough to replace former African player of the year Badou Zaki and hang onto the job.

* WEAKNESSES: Lack of experience is the main problem, combined with a lack of any outstanding individual talent. The majority of the players are Moroccan-based, meaning they seldom face top-notch opposition. Chances of an upset over the Dutch or Belgians appear remote.

* WORLD CUP HISTORY: Two previous appearances. Record of 1-3-3. Best finish was in reaching the second round in 1986.

* LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: The coach's name is not Abdellah Blinda, as widely reported, but rather Abdellah Ajri. Blinda is his nickname. It means "bluffer," and is taken from his fondness of poker.

* OUTLOOK: Bleak. Unless it can stage an upset on the level of its performances in 1986, when it held England and Poland to ties, defeated Portugal and lost by only 1-0 to West Germany, Morocco is in for a tough time. The hope is that a victory over Saudi Arabia will propel it into the second round, but the Saudis are hoping the result is just the opposite so they might advance.

* PREDICTED FIRST-ROUND FINISH: Fourth.

ROSTER

No. Name Position 1 Khalil Azmi Goalkeeper 12 Said Dghay Goalkeeper 22 Zakaria Alaoui El Ashraf Goalkeeper 2 Nacer Abdellah Defender 3 Abdelkarim El Hedrioui Defender 5 Smahi Triki Defender 6 Noureddine Naybet Defender 8 Rachid Azzouzi Defender 13 Ahmed Bahja Defender 14 Ahmed Mashabi Defender 4 Tahar El Khalej Midfielder 7 Mustapha Hadji Midfielder 10 Mustapha El Haddaoui Midfielder 11 Rachid Daoudi Midfielder 15 El Arbi Hababi Midfielder 18 Rachid Negrouz Midfielder 21 Mohammed Aziz Samadi Midfielder 9 Mohamed Chaouch Forward 16 Hassan Nader Forward 17 Abdelsalam El Ghrissi Forward 19 Abdelmajid Bouyboub Forward 20 Hassan Kachloul Forward

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