Friday, August 28, 2009

Moroccan soccer season under way



Football action kicks off this weekend in Morocco. Reigning champions Raja Casablanca will seek to keep their place against local rivals Wydad Casablanca, OC Khouribga and FAR (Rabat) in this year's season.

Raja Casablanca star Soufiane Alloudi

Each of the challengers have won the championship once over the past four years and have spent a lot of money on new players and on training before the season started.

Raja Casablanca has a new coach, Brazilian Carlos Mozer, who played in the 1990 FIFA World Cup. New players include Moroccan international Soufiane Alloudi, on loan from Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates and defensive midfielder Abderrahmane Mssassi. Meanwhile, two players have moved on - former international forward Mohamed Armoumen has moved to Wydad and goalie Mohamed Amine Bourkadi is on loan to Wydad Fes.

Word is that Raja will be up against serious competition for the title, especially if their CAF Champions League commitments stretch their resources.

The biggest challenge to Raja this season may come from local rivals Wydad, whose big-name signings in the off season included those of Mohamed Armoumen from Raja and Abdelhaq Ait Laarif from the UAE club Ajman.

Wydad coach Badou Zaki has also brought in the Congolese player Lys Mouithys from French outfit FC Libourne, Malian Boubacar Coulibaly from Germany's SV Wehen and Ahmed Ajeddou from Alahly Tripoli. Determined to regain the crown they last won three years ago, Wydad have prepared thoroughly for the coming season by way of an international friendly tournament with Bayer Leverkusen, Galatasary and Egypt's Al Ahly.

FAR Rabat, for their part, have appointed established Belgian coach Walter Meeuws in their quest to add to their record 12 league titles. They have strengthened their squad with the purchase of Mohamed Jawad from CODM Meknes, Abderrahmane Ellaabi from AS Sale and Hassan Bouizgar from OC Khouribga, while Mustapha Allaoui, their top scorer last season, has left for Guingamp in France.

Meanwhile OC Khouribga, who won their one and only league title two years ago, have appointed Youssef Almarini as coach and signed a number of Moroccan players in their bid for further success.

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