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WAFCON is here: What you need to know about Morocco’s Atlas Lionesses

Sanaa Mssoudy of ASFAR Club during the 2021 TotalEnergies CAF Women's Champions league. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Sanaa Mssoudy of ASFAR Club during the 2021 TotalEnergies CAF Women's Champions league. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Jul 5, 2022


Team Profile: Morocco

Nickname: Atlas Lionesses

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FIFA Ranking: 77

How Morocco qualified:

Morocco qualified as hosts, which, means they are making their third appearance in the tournament. The Atlas Lionesses were abject on their second and last outing at the 2000 edition, losing all three group stage matches and conceding 13 goals after qualifying impressively enough. Since 2020, they have trended upwards thanks to its launched four-year women's football development. ASFAR's successes as Moroccan and North African champions before they won bronze at the inaugural TotalEnergies Women's Champions League accounted for at least 14 of their players in the women’s national team.

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WAFCON preparations:

The Atlas Lionesses have been one of the most active national teams on the continent, playing at least 10 international matches in the last 12 months, including against European giants Spain.

Coach: Reynald Pedros

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The 50-year-old, who guided Lyon to its 12th and 13th French topflight league titles and the third and fourth UEFA Women's Champions League crowns, took over as head coach of the Moroccan side in 2020 and since hit the ground running. He has led the Lionesses to eight wins in 10 outings and is expected to lead them to glory at the continent showpiece on home soil.

Key players to watch, Sanaa Mssoudy:

The 22-year-old hogged the headlines when she grabbed a breathtaking hat-trick as ASFAR thrashed Rivers Angels 3-0 in the 2021 Champions League in Egypt where they finished third last November. Before then, she made a big break on her debut outing for the senior level in their 2020 UNAF Women's Tournament success in Tunisia, where she scored twice.

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Ghizlane Chebbak:

The 31-year-old inspired Morocco to North Africa's 2020 UNAF Women's Tournament triumph in Tunisia, where she scored four times. She has maintained her prolific form at the club level, as she was part of ASFAR's third-place finish at the first Women's Champions League and retained the Moroccan domestic title. With six goals since her debut in 2018, the daughter of Moroccan legend Larbi Chebbak, is expected to play a huge part in the continental glory quest of the Atlas Lionesses.

Salma Amani:

The 32-year-old has enjoyed top-flight spells at Lorient, Guingamp, Fleury, Issy and currently with Dijon in France. Playing 18 years in a European nation will offer valuable experience to the Moroccan set-up. The Rabat-born striker, who holds French citizenship will be a huge bargain to the Atlas Lionesses' group. She was part of the 2020 UNAF success and recently, scored twice in April's 6-1 win over the Gambia.

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