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The Atlas Lions

Les Lions de l'Atlas

Latest News of The Atlas Lions

By The Atlas Lions, May 14 2019 06:20PM

(CAFonline.com) Frenchman Herve Renard still ranks as they first coach in African history to win the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with two different teams. Renard produced one of the most scintillating results ever leading Zambia to the 2012 crown with a penalty shoot-out victory over Cote d’Ivoire.



Three years later, he turned the Ivorians tears from 2012 into chants of jubilation when he led them to the title with another post-match penalties conquest, this time over Ghana’s Black Stars.



He now looks straight at another unprecedented piece of history with Morocco’s Atlas Lions as he hopes to win a third continental crown with a side that has not won the title since 1976. Renard and his charges reached the quarter final of the 2017 showpiece losing 1-0 to Egypt.



Can Renard, and the Atlas Lions dream of quenching a 43-year old thirst?


“I don’t know…. everything is possible in football but first we have to look at our opening game which is the most important, then step by step. We have a tough group and it will be very important to come to Egypt with an ambition of respect all our opponents,” the Frenchman stated.


Morocco are in Group C with Renard’s former employers Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and Namibia.


“We are in a very tough group and we need to come in here very concentrated. We have to be ready from the first game to get a good result which will give us some confidence going forward,” he added.


The 50-year old will be counting on the experience from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia where despite bowing out in the group stages, the Atlas Lions gave encouraging performances. They finished bottom of the group after replicate 1-0 losses to Iran and Portugal and drew 2-2 with Spain who equalized in the final minute of added time.


“This experience will be very important because we played very good football. Though we didn’t get the result we wanted, all Moroccans were proud of their team. Now, we have to make them very happy again in Egypt,” stated the coach.


“We are coming in with an ambition and if you come with an ambition you have to beat everyone. We have a very good team and we need to believe in ourselves.”


Renard believes going through to the final will be tougher this time especially with the expansion of the tournament to 24 teams.


“The expansion makes it more difficult because there is one more round to play and the teams are more ambitious. But we are hoping to go very far in this tournament,” Renard noted.



Morocco topped their qualification group ahead of Cameroon with both sides picking 11 points with identical three wins, two draws and a loss from group B. The only loss they suffered was against each other, Cameroon winning the first leg (1-0) and Morocco winning the return tie (2-0).



Based in Cairo, Morocco will kick off their campaign against Namibia on 23 June at the Al Salam Stadium before playing Cote d’Ivoire five days later on South Africa on July 1 all at the same venue.

By The Atlas Lions, Apr 23 2019 12:40PM

The Ajax star had once vowed never to play in the Morocco stripes under the French tactician

Herve Renard has shouldered ‘99%’ of the blame for Hakim Ziyech's decision to desert Morocco in the past.


Both parties got off to an underwhelming start, with the Ajax star frustrated at the treatment he received from the Frenchman.


Renard's first test as Morocco's coach was a 2017 African Cup of Nations doubleheader against Cape Verde in March 2016.


Ziyech, who had been impressive in the campaign, was dropped for the first leg before being handed a substitute role in the reverse fixture in Marrakech.


He was then left out of the preliminary squad for the finals in Gabon.


The decision prompted the Ajax star to declare his intention never to return to the national team fold as long as the Afcon-winning manager remained in charge. He stuck to the decision until the problem was resolved later.


Now, Renard has finally accepted that he was at fault.


"I was appointed coach. I start training on Monday. We play on Saturday in Cape Verde on a synthetic field with a lot of wind; a typical African game with the characteristics that I know. I put Hakim in the stands, we start on a difficult base, we play the return to Morocco three days later, he returns for 25 minutes, but he was certainly not satisfied with the stage in its entirety,” Renard said on Le Vestiaire, a RMC Sport show.


“I made a mistake here. Do not talk to him, everyone is on his side, the situation is tense, he's coming back, the third time he's a little hurt... until I do not pick him any more.”


Renard maintained that Ziyech's character ‘remained impeccable’ in spite of all he faced.


"There is nothing about it. He has never shown bad character, he never reacted badly, on the contrary, he remained impeccable, even if, of course, he was not satisfied, and after a year, my president told me, 'We need to go see him, you see the season he's doing.'


"I said 'yes, on his qualities, there is nothing to say, that's what we need,” he continued.


"We went to Amsterdam and after three minutes of conversation, everything was settled, he wanted to come back, he is very attached to the national team, I needed him and I recognized my mistakes."


Ziyech has not only become a star performer in Renard's squad, he is now one of the best players in Europe.


His showings this season has helped Ajax reach the semi-finals of the Uefa Champions League, dumping out Real Madrid and Juventus in the process. And they have their eyes set on the Eredivisie title.


He starred in Morocco’s underwhelming outing at the 2018 Fifa World Cup and is set to play a crucial role at his first Afcon finals in June.


The Atlas Lions have been placed in Group D alongside Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and Namibia.


https://www.goal.com/en-us/news/morocco-coach-herve-renard-opens-up-on-hakim-ziyech-mistake/f4a9cwjguym71imowesneexrb

By The Atlas Lions, Feb 28 2019 03:33PM

(CAFOnline.com) As the Total African Cup of Nations Egypt 2019 approaches, the Moroccan coach speaks to cafonline.com to discuss the state of his team's fitness. The Atlas Lions, already qualified, will face Malawi in the last day of qualifying before a gala match against Argentina in Tangier.


February always has a special flavour for you as it corresponds to the titles won in 2012 with Zambia and Ivory Coast in 2015. What do you remember about these two titles?


Hervé Renard: "These are memories engraved forever in my heart! It's indescribable. You have to live it. I never thought I'd be working on the African continent and it's thanks to Claude Leroy. There's also a small luck factor that I benefited from. ”


What is your state of mind after this third CAF Coach of the Year award?


Hervé Renard: "It's an honour because it's the third time I've won it since 2008, when I became head coach. In ten years, it's exceptional! It is also the recognition of collective work because I work with high quality assistants and federations that have given me the means to work. In Morocco, I have a lot of people working for me. You have to know how to delegate, and you also have to constantly question yourself. What motivates a coach is to go out and get titles."


You recently attended the Asian Cup of Nations won by Qatar. What are your impressions?


Hervé Renard: "I was pleasantly surprised by their team even though there are naturalized players. There is mainly a work done by Spaniards in recent years. Qatar has been preparing for its World Cup in 2022 for a long time and this trophy won against Japan is significant."


Do you still think that Egypt and Senegal are the favourites for this 2019 CAN?

Hervé Renard: "By showing humility, it's very difficult to win a CAN and I know what I'm talking about. Statistically, football lovers know that Egypt is a great country. Especially when you can count on Mohamed Sala. And even more so at home with strong popular support. It will be very difficult for all their opponents. Which team today has individual qualities like Sadio Mané or Koulibaly for Senegal ? Let us not forget also the Ivory Coast of Nicolas Pépé and Serge Aurier, the defending champions of Cameroon or Nigeria. I'd rather not be a braggart for Morocco but make the opponents fall on the field."


Has the location of the preparation course for the CAN 2019 been decided?


Hervé Renard: "The Royal Moroccan Federation is building a magnificent national technical centre. It's exceptional in quality! Will it be finished on time by June? I hope so and for the moment we are planning our preparation in Rabat. Otherwise, we'll find a plan B, but it's not current."


Morocco, already qualified, face Malawi in the final day of the Total AFCON 2019 qualifiers. What do you expect from this game?


Hervé Renard: "This will allow us to see some players who have not worn the national team jersey much. Not counting Argentina, it is the last official meeting before the preparation of the AFCON in June. It is also important to collect points for the FIFA ranking. It's always difficult to play in Malawi."


The Moroccan press reports that elements such as Noussair Mazraoui, Achraf Hakimi, Youssef En-Nesyri and Hamza Mendyl, who would be made available to the U23 team for the decisive confrontation against the DRC, are missing. Can you confirm that?


Hervé Renard: "We're going to make one last point with the U23 coach and the DTN. But I will not leave them all at disposal, contrary to what may have been said prematurely. I make sporting decisions and if I don't talk, it's not official."



Could Yunis Abdelhamid, author of a great season with Reims, be called?


Hervé Renard: "I recently had him on the phone and congratulated him on the excellent season he is having. He is a boy who succeeds in winning despite the transition from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1. Not only is he a regular player, but he has also become a key member of this Reims team. Congratulations to him, he will be a valuable contribution to Morocco."


Another good point for Moroccan football: Osama Idrissi will play for the Atlas Lions


Hervé Renard: "My greatest satisfaction is to have met a very professional player during our last internship. I was impressed by his rigour and his sense of collective spirit. He has many qualities and should play in an even bigger club than at present. That's very good news! It's up to him to impose himself now."


What do you think of El Kayoubi's expatriation to China?


Hervé Renard: "There are more and more very good players in China. Already when I was there in 2002, as an assistant, there was already a certain level. It's not easy to perform there with the rule of 3 foreign players per team. Look at how Gervinho is having a wonderful season today in Parma. He didn't fall asleep in China, you have to be competitive and Kayoubi will improve. This experience will serve him in his evolution. Kayoubi's problem today is rather the competition with the remarkable season of the young Youssef En-Nesyri, the driving force behind the strikers in Morocco."



What do you expect from the gala match against Argentina in Tangier?



Hervé Renard: "We're going to have to do the same things as we did against Portugal and Spain at the 2018 World Cup. If we're at our level, we can compete. While knowing that they have an alien named Lionel Messi who makes everything change. It's an exceptional match in a career and for Morocco. I'm sure the players will all be motivated."

By The Atlas Lions, Feb 2 2019 08:18PM

(Kingfut.com)Morocco’s national team head coach, Herve Renard, discussed the Atlas Lions chances in the upcoming 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.


Rumors are circulating that the Frenchman is on the verge of leaving his position with Morocco after his statements concerning the Atlas Lions chances in the 2019 African Cup of Nations.


Renard stated that the Moroccan national team is not a strong candidate to win the title, claiming, “It seems that my realism is not liked by many people. We should look back at the history and recall Egypt hosting the tournament in 2006. It is very hard for Egypt not to win the title.”


He added, “The Senegalese national team also includes the best individual talents in the content. We also have a very strong team, but Egypt and Senegal will always be the strongest candidates.”


Egypt is set to host the 2019 African Cup of Nations starting from June 21st. This will be the fifth time Egypt will be hosting the AFCON after 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006, with the Pharaohs winning three of the four versions.

By The Atlas Lions, Jan 21 2019 07:48PM

(KingFut.com) Morocco head coach Herve Renard discussed his team’s chances in the upcoming 2019 African Cup of Nations ‘AFCON’ which will take place in Egypt in June 2019.


It has been announced that Egypt will host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced it’s bid has prevailed over South Africa’s one.


“We’ll go with ambitions, that’s normal. But today, there are two great favorites: Egypt, of course, and Senegal,” Renard told Jeune Afrique.


The French coach recently won the CAF Coach of the Year award for the third time following Morocco’s impressive performances in the World Cup and the 2019 AFCON qualifiers.


“Winning the CAN away is not easy,” he added. “We must not forget that nothing is easy during a CAN. We will face highly motivated teams. We will not be at home, and we know that outside, it’s always more complicated.”

By The Atlas Lions, Dec 5 2018 01:42PM

By Morocco World News


After CAF’s decision to strip the CAN hosting rights from Cameroon, several African countries will now submit their bid as a replacement host.


Rabat – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) might consider Morocco as an alternative host to Cameroon. The head coach of the national football team, Herve Renard, believes that Morocco is the right choice to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN).


Renard believes that Morocco is ready in terms of infrastructure to host the African tournament. The coach expressed his hope for Morocco to be designated as host country for CAN 2019 “even if it will add extra pressure.”


Cameroon lost eligibility to host the competition after inspections of the country’s sports venues revealed that it was not ready to host the tournament. CAF will now start a new bidding process to appoint another host for the CAN, which will take place from June 15 to July 17.


While Morocco repeatedly supported Cameroon’s bid before CAF made its decision, the North African country might compete with South Africa and other countries to host it.


Morocco’s successful experience in hosting the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) might help Morocco clinch the rights to host CAF’s flagship tournament.


Morocco’s Atlas Lions will take part in the CAF competition after a well deserved qualification.


Fouzi Lekjaa, head of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) said that although the national team has had several exceptional generations of teams, Morocco has not been able to win the CAN since 1976.


He added that Morocco’s Atlas Lions and coach Herve Renard have received criticism. Lekjaa then called on critics to stop the “sterile criticism. We trust Herve Renard who has brought a lot to the Atlas Lions.” He also called for unity and support for both the coach and team.


Morocco’s football team has delivered several solid performances, especially at the 2018 World Cup in their games against Portugal and Spain.


In the 2019 CAN qualifiers, Morocco also received applause from their fans after they “broke the curse” and beat Cameroon 2-0.

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