En-Nesyri in Morocco’s World Cup squad despite goal drought

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Striker Youssef En-Nesyri was selected in Morocco’s World Cup squad on Thursday despite failing to score a league goal this season for Spanish club Sevilla.

En-Nesyri, however, has experience with the national team, making 49 international appearances and scoring 14 goals, including one in the 2018 World Cup. But he faces competition from Abderrazak Hamdallah, who plays for the Saudi club Al-Ittihad, for a starting place.

Central defender Nayef Aguerd, who plays for Premier League club West Ham, was also included. Aguerd suffered a knee injury during the offseason.

Bayern Munich right-back Noussair Mazraoui provides good cover for Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi at right-back. Hakimi is one of the best attacking full-backs in world football and has pace, skill, good passing and an eye for shooting with eight goals in 53 games for Morocco.

Romain Saiss brings plenty of experience in central defense with 64 international appearances and four solid seasons with Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers before joining Turkish side Besiktas this season.

Sofyan Amrabat and Abdelhamid Sabiri bring solidity to the midfield. They both play in Italy, with Fiorentina and Sampdoria respectively. Marseille midfielder Amine Harit offers a strong technical ability that can beat players for their skill, but he tends to give the ball away too much.

If the En-Nesyri drought continues, Morocco’s main goal threats could come from Chelsea striker Hakim Ziyech and Angers winger Sofiane Boufal, who has scored four of his five international goals for Morocco. This year. Ziyech has scored 17 goals for Morocco since making his international debut in 2015.

Morocco have a tough draw in Group F. The team starts against 2018 world runners-up Croatia on November 23 before facing 2018 semi-finalists Belgium and then Canada on November 1. december.

The national team are playing in their sixth World Cup after making their first appearance in 1970. In 1986, the Atlas Lions became the first African team to reach the round of 16, losing to Germany in the West 1-0 in the round of 16.

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Morocco:

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 Liège), 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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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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