After winning the edition of CHAN 2018 in Morocco, the Atlas Lions defeated Mali in the final of CHAN 2020 in Yaoundé and thus became the first African team to win two consecutive editions. And this performance is not by chance, quite the contrary. Analysis.
The Royal Moroccan Football Federation, through its President Fouzi Lekjaa, has put in place, since 2014, a real strategy for the development of local soccer.
As a reminder, the Kingdom now has more than 200 synthetic pitches to standards, about twenty stadiums with natural grass and lighting to standards, five regional training centers and the famous Mohammed VI Football Complex, a unique infrastructure in Africa. Gianni Infantino, the FIFA President said that “this center has nothing to envy to other centers in the world, and it must serve as an example”.
The second axis of the strategy put in place by the FRMF is the good governance of clubs. Indeed, the FRMF accompanies the national clubs on the administrative and financial levels. On the one hand, the elite clubs are in the process of being transformed into public limited companies and have been placed under the supervision of the National Control and Management Department. On the other hand, the FRMF provides each first division club with an annual grant of approximately 600,000 euros. This does not include the financial aid and support provided to clubs participating in continental competitions.
The FRMF has also placed the training of players at the heart of the development of national soccer. The national clubs have quality training centers (FUS, RS Berkane…) and rely on players from the local pool, while other clubs are setting up first-rate academies. As an example, Raja Casablanca is about to finalize the construction of an ultra-modern academy.
The FRMF has also focused its strategy on promoting the training of managers, especially coaches, but also medical staff and referees.
The triumph of Moroccan soccer can also be credited to the FRMF’s excellent management of the covid-19 crisis: the 2019/2020 Botola resumed with an effective health protocol that allowed Moroccan fans to experience an epic season, with three teams vying for the title on the final day.
In addition, despite the crisis, FRMF managed to get a new sponsor, Inwi (telecom sector), hired a company specialized in scheduling championship matches, and generalized the VAR to the second division.
It is this strategy that has enabled the Moroccan championship, the Botola Pro, to be the best in Africa in terms of performance. According to the ranking of CAF member associations published in September 2020, the Moroccan championship has become the best championship in Africa, with 3 clubs in the top 10 of the best clubs in Africa.
In the 2019-2020 season, 4 of the 8 semi-finalists in the Champions League and the Confederations Cup were from Botola. This means that all Moroccan clubs reached the last four, and the Confederation Cup was won by the Sports Renaissance of Berkane ahead of the Egyptian club Pyramids FC.
In recent years, Moroccan clubs have also won several competitions (CL for Wydad, CC for Raja and Berkane, and two editions of the Super Cup), which is noteworthy because in the past, victories of Moroccan clubs in continental competitions were a feat, whereas today, Moroccan clubs are often favorites in interclub competitions.
It is this strategy put in place for several years that allowed Morocco to win two consecutive CHAN, but also to qualify the national team U20 at the CANU20 Mauritania, which had not happened for 15 years.
All these elements explain the success of the Moroccan selection on the African scene, which in the opinion of many observers of African soccer, largely deserves its triumph on a continental scale.
And this strategy is now being implemented for women’s soccer. President Lekjaa announced last year an important development plan for women’s soccer. This was materialized by the implementation of a Marshall Plan with a six-fold increase in the budget for women’s soccer, the establishment for the first time of a professional women’s championship under the aegis of a dedicated institution, the National Women’s Football League, also newly created.
French coach Reynald Pedros, two-time winner of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, was hired, illustrating the FRMF’s ambition for women’s soccer. This is a good thing because in 2022, Morocco will host the women’s CAN.