Thursday, July 08, 2010

Moroccans in the World Cup final

While Morocco didn't qualify to play in this year's FIFA World Cup, the country can be proud of two nationals currently playing for Holland. And as Holland has now qualified to play in the final against Spain on Sunday in Soweto, Moroccans will have a hard time choosing who to support.
Normally, Morocco supports Spain, but now with Khalid Boulahrouz and Ibrahim Afellay on the field for Holland, it could be a tough choice.

It will be a great moment for Khalid Boulahrouz when he treads the turf at the final. On Tuesday he played in the semi-final against Uruguay and was able to contain the attacks of Uruguayan Alvaro Pereira for ninety minutes.

Khalid 'the Cannibal' Boulahrouz

Nicknamed 'The Cannibal' for his tackles and for his taste for rough play (Cristiano Ronaldo can vouch for that!), he debuted at his birthplace, in the town of Maassluis in the Netherlands. After several seasons in the youth teams of Ajax Amsterdam in 2001, he signed his first professional contract with RKC Waalwijk. Khalid was only 20 years old, but was already showing great potential.

In 2004, Marco Van Basten, the Dutch coach, selected him for the national team, after he was ignored by the Moroccan Football Federation. That same year, he joined the Bundesliga and Hamburg, where he became a mainstay in defence and one of the best in the Bundesliga for the 2005/2006 season. He transferred to Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, but returned to Germany in 2008 and still plays for VfB Stuttgart.

Boulahrouz has regularly been selected for the Holland's national team since 2004, and played in the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008.

Boulahrouz plays alongside fellow Dutch Moroccan Ibrahim Afellay, a playmaker at PSV Eindhoven (1st Division).

Ibrahim Afellay

Afellay chose the Netherlands in 2007, after receiving a proposal from the Moroccan Federation. If his choice has saddened many Moroccans, it now enables this young midfielder (aged 24) to be closer the dream of every footballer: to participate in the final match of a World Cup.

No comments: