RABAT, Morocco (AP)Striker Youssef En-Nesyri was selected in Morocco’s squad for the World Cup on Thursday despite failing to score a league goal this season for Spanish club Sevilla.
En-Nesyri is experienced with the national team, however, making 49 international appearances and scoring 14 goals, including one at the 2018 World Cup. But he faces competition for a starting place from Abderrazak Hamdallah, who plays for Saudi club Al-Ittihad.
Central defender Nayef Aguerd, who plays for Premier League club West Ham, was also included. Aguerd hurt his knee in the offseason.
Bayern Munich right back Noussair Mazraoui offers good cover for Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi at right back. Hakimi is one of the best attacking fullbacks in world soccer and has pace, skill, good passing and an eye for shooting with eight goals in 53 games for Morocco.
Romain Saiss brings a lot of experience in central defense with 64 international appearances and four solid seasons with Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers before joining Turkish team Besiktas this season.
Sofyan Amrabat and Abdelhamid Sabiri bring some solidity to midfield. They both play in Italy, with Fiorentina and Sampdoria, respectively. Marseille midfielder Amine Harit offers strong technical ability can beat players for skill, but he is prone to giving the ball away too much.
If En-Nesyri’s scoring drought continues, Morocco’s main goal threats could come from Chelsea forward Hakim Ziyech and Angers winger Sofiane Boufal, who has scored four of his five international goals for Morocco this year. Ziyech has netted 17 goals for Morocco since his international debut in 2015.
Morocco has a tough draw in Group F. The team opens against 2018 World Cup runner-up Croatia on Nov. 23 before facing 2018 semifinalist Belgium and then Canada on Dec. 1.
The national team is playing in its sixth World Cup after making its first appearance in 1970. In 1986, the Atlas Lions became the first African team to reach the knockout round, losing to West Germany 1-0 in the round of 16.
Goalkeepers: Yassine Bounou (Sevilla), Munir Mohamedi (Al Wehda), Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti (Wydad AC)
Defenders: Nayef Aguerd (West Ham), Yahia Attiyat Allah (Wydad AC), Badr Benoun (Qatar SC), Achraf Dari (Brest), Jawad El Yamiq (Real Valladolid), Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain), Noussair Mazraoui (Bayern Munich), Roman Saiss (Besiktas)
Midfielders: Selim Amallah (Standard Liege), Sofyan Amrabat (Fiorentina), Bilal El Khannous (Genk), Amine Harit (Marseille), Yahya Jabrane (Wydad AC), Azzedine Ounahi (Angers), Abdelhamid Sabiri (Sampdoria)
Forwards: Abde Ezzalzouli (Osasuna), Zakaria Aboukhlal (Toulouse), Sofiane Boufal (Angers), Ilias Chair (Queens Park Rangers), Walid Cheddira (Bari), Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla), Abderrazak Hamdallah (Al-Ittihad), Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea)
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