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How many Morocco players were born in other countries? List of World Cup squad members born in Spain, France and Canada

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Morocco take on Portugal in the 2022 World Cup quarterfinals as Walid Regragui masterminded an incredible penalty shootout win over Spain in the Round of 16.

The Atlas Lions has impressed in Qatar, with their meeting against Portugal just fourth time an African nation has reached the last eight, with no team from the continent ever reaching the semifinals.

Regragui has created a solid platform for his squad at the World Cup with the best defensive record of teams left in the competition, with Nayef Aguerd’s own goal the only effort conceded in four matches.

Morocco’s squad has been hailed for its unity and Regragui has looked to call on players based across Europe, and to those born outside of Morocco.

MORE: Will Cristiano Ronaldo start for Portugal vs Morocco?

Which Morocco players were born in other countries?

Regragui’s 26-man squad includes just 12 players born in Morocco, the lowest ratio in the competition, with players originating from Spain, Canada, France, the Netherlands and Belgium, all named in his final panel.

Each player has their own story behind opting to represent Morocco, over a different option, with some moving to Morocco as children, and others opting to represent their parents’ birth nation.

Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou moved to Casablanca as a 3-year-old, after being born to Moroccan parents in Canada, with Madrid-born key defender Achraf Hakimi coming through the ranks at Real Madrid, and French born-captain Roman Saiss qualifying via his Moroccan father.

Morocco’s 2022 World Cup Squad – Born outside Morocco
Player Birth Year Birth Location Morocco Caps Caps for other nations
Yassine Bounou 1991 Montreal, Canada 48
Munir Mohamedi 1989 Cueta, Spain 44
Achraf Hakimi 1998 Madrid, Spain 58
Noussair Mazraoui 1997 Leiderdorp, Netherlands 19
Roman Saiss 1990 Bourg-de-Peag, France 70  
Sofyan Amrabat 1996 Huizen, Netherlands 43 Netherlands U15 – 4 caps
Illias Chair 1997 Antwerp, Belgium 10
Selim Amallah 1996 Hautrage, Belgium 20  
Bilal El Khannous 2004 Strombeek-Bever, Belgium 0 Belgium U15/16/18 – 13 caps
Hakim Ziyech 1993 Dronteen, Netherlands 47 Netherlands U20/21 – 6 caps
Anass Zaroury 2000 Mechelen, Belgium 1 Belgium U17/18/21 – 14 caps
Zakaria Aboukhal 2000 Rotterdam, Netherlands 14 Netherlands U17/18/19/20 – 31 caps
Sofiane Boufal 1993 Paris, France 36
Walid Cheddira 1998 Loreto, Italy 3

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Why Hakmi, Saiss and Ziyech chose Morocco?

All three players opted against representing their country of birth at senior international level, with Hakimi coming in for specific focus, as his Panenka spot kick knocked out Spain.

Each player as their own background to tell but the Morocco squad is showing a fantastic example of cultural and national togetherness as they prepare to try and make history.

Achraf Hakimi

Hakimi joined the Real Madrid youth set up as an 8-year-old after being spotted by Los Blancos scouts playing for his school in the Spanish capital.

The PSG full back confirmed he was approached to represent Spain at underage level, but he claimed the scenario just did not feel right, in comparison to his connection with Moroccan and Arab culture at home.

He opted to stick by his decision to represent Morocco, with an U20 debut whilst still at Real Madrid, before breaking into the senior team later that year.

Roman Saiss

Morocco skipper Saiss has not been as outspoken as Hakimi about his connections to other national sides after opting to represent his father’s birth country.

In a 2017 interview with The Guardian he hinted at his late entrance to top-flight football playing a role but he has remained steadfast in his commitment, despite not always being a first-choice pick.

Hakim Ziyech

Ziyech returned to the Morocco fold ahead of Qatar 2022, after previously stating his intention to retire on the heels of a falling out with previous boss Vahid Halilhodžić.

Regragui persuaded him to come back into the squad, but Ziyech’s international career has been littered with changes.

After originally representing the Netherlands across U20/U21 level, he switched allegiance to Morocco in 2015, in a major blow to Dutch plans.

Ziyech followed Hakimi’s message by stating the move was motivated by a desire to represent his family in Morocco.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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