Morocco, who made World Cup history, must wait until September for their next competitive match, a qualifier for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
The Atlas Lions, who became Africa’s first World Cup semifinalists last month, were scheduled to play Zimbabwe twice in the Cup of Nations during the month of March.
FIFA, however, banned Zimbabwe from the primary African national team competition due to government meddling in sport.
So Morocco will have to settle for friendlies in March and June before traveling to South Africa and hosting Liberia between September 4 and 12 in Group K.
Morocco is “eager” to create World Cup history for Africa.
In June of last year, Morocco topped the table with six points after victories against South Africa and Liberia.
Due to the rainy season in west Africa, the 2023 finals in Ivory Coast have been postponed until January and February 2024. The first- and second-place teams will go to the tournament.
Despite being one of the most dominant national teams on the continent for decades, Morocco have only won the Cup of Nations once, 47 years ago in Ethiopia.
Since then, the closest the north African kingdom has come was a 2-1 loss to hosts Tunisia in the 2004 title match.
Walid Regragui, who led his team to victories over Belgium, Spain, and Portugal in Qatar before falling to France in the semifinals, anticipates reaching at least the quarterfinals of the subsequent Africa Cup.
The former national team defender told the Moroccan Arryadia sports station, “We must reach at least the semi-finals of the (2023) CAN (Cup of Nations).”
“If I do not reach the semi-finals, I will quit on my own,” said the 47-year-old coach of Morocco, who was born in France and was appointed barely three months before the World Cup.
THE AFRICAN TEAMS OF WC22
The other four African qualifiers for Qatar, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, and Tunisia, will be competing in the Cup of Nations throughout the month of March.
Senegal will face Mozambique at home and on the road, Cameroon will face Namibia, Ghana will face Angola, and Tunisia will take on Libya.
Senegal hopes Sadio Mane recovers in time to face the Mozambican Mambas after the Bayern Munich attacker missed the World Cup due to knee surgery.
Tunisia will continue to be managed by Jalel Kadri after the national football federation denied his resignation request after failing to advance to the second round in Qatar, despite finishing their campaign with a 1-0 victory over 2018 champions France.
© Agence France-Presse