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Friday, June 21, 2024

Morocco’s 13-Year Road to the World Cup Semi-Final

  • The king of Morocco established the Mohammed VI Football Academy in 2009.
  • Morocco's soccer federation also sought out and converted eligible players around Europe.
Morocco's starting line-up against France in the World Cup semi-final
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Morocco’s historic run to the 2022 World Cup semi-final — where it is the first African team to reach that stage — began in 2009.

That was the year Mohammed VI, the king of Morocco, established the Mohammed VI Football Academy — an institution designed to find and develop the best young footballers in the North African nation.

The facility covers 2.5 square kilometers and cost a reported $16.8 million to build. It features outdoor and indoor soccer pitches, a school with a teaching program supported by Morocco’s ministry of education, and a full-service medical center.

Nasser Larguet was tasked by Mohammed VI with heading up the Academy when it first launched. Per The Athletic, Larguet was hugely influential in not only discovering talent within Morocco, but also in seeking out eligible foreign-born players and convincing them to play for the Atlas Lions.

  • Achraf Hakimi (Spain)
  • Sofyan Amrabat (Netherlands)
  • Noussair Mazraoui (Netherlands)
  • Sofiane Boufal (France)
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Larguet is also credited with noticing Walid Regragui’s aptitude for managing early on.

Regragui has drawn much acclaim for his leadership three months into the job as the head of Morocco’s men’s national team — but his $618,000 salary pales in comparison to France’s Didier Deschamps, who is bringing in $3.8 million per year.

Deschamps is one of the most accomplished coaches in the World Cup, having won the tournament as both a player and manager — and being the only of the top four highest-paid managers in the world to make it to the semis.

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