Morocco’s Women’s World Cup Journey: A Beacon of Hope for the Arab World.
Morocco is carrying the hopes of the Arab world as they make their debut in the Women’s World Cup. They recently played a friendly match against Jamaica as their final warm-up before the tournament. While football has been making headlines in the MENA region, thanks in part to big signings in the Saudi Pro League, the participation of Morocco in the Women’s World Cup in 2024 is capturing attention as well.
As the only team from the Arab world in the tournament, Morocco will face tough competition from football giants like the US and England. On a separate note, Saudi football side Al-Ahli is also making headlines for their new signings and their search for an expert coach for the upcoming Pro League Season. The Algerian MENA track-and-field teams recently gathered for the 2023 Arab Games, with Algeria coming out on top by winning the most medals in the tournament.
The Women’s World Cup is offering hope to the underdog teams. Morocco will play their first match of the tournament against Germany. Given that the Atlas Lionesses are currently ranked 72nd in the world, it will be a challenging task for them to secure any points against the Germans, who are considered serious contenders for the trophy. However, there have been surprises in the tournament, such as co-hosts New Zealand’s historic victory over Norway in the opening match. This provides hope for Morocco and other underdog teams.
Germany’s team has been weakened by the absence of key players Marina Hegering and Lena Oberdorf due to injury, and they even suffered a shock defeat to Namibia in a recent warm-up friendly. Morocco manager Reynald Pedros promised that his team would aim to surprise everyone, and their match against Germany might be the perfect opportunity. The Lionesses are not only the first team from the Middle East and North Africa region to qualify for the tournament but also a source of inspiration for players from other Muslim-majority countries.
In fact, the Afghan national women’s football team showed their support for the Atlas Lionesses by attending a public training session in Melbourne, where they are currently based after being evacuated from Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s takeover. The Afghan players believe that Morocco’s participation in the tournament is a chance to showcase that Muslim women can participate in sports in any country. The Afghan team is no longer government-sanctioned, and they are urging FIFA to recognize their team so that they can compete internationally.
The Women’s World Cup will also see Arab representation through Heba Saadieh, who will become the first Palestinian referee to officiate at a World Cup. This milestone highlights the growing inclusivity in football.
Shifting focus to Saudi clubs, they are now attempting to hire managers from the Premier League to enhance their teams. Al-Ahli has approached Fulham manager Marco Silva to lead their side, which recently got promoted to the Saudi Pro League. The team comprises talented Saudi youngsters and veteran former Premier League players like Édouard Mendy and Roberto Firmino. After a recent cash boost from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, Al-Ahli is serious about re-establishing themselves as one of Saudi Arabia’s top clubs.
Meanwhile, Al-Ettifaq, another Saudi club, has signed former Premier League manager Steven Gerrard, while Nuno Espírito Santo manages Al-Ahli’s city rivals Al-Ittihad. Karim Benzema, a prominent player, is part of Al-Ittihad’s squad. These contrasting dynamics in Saudi football require expert guidance to navigate the challenges of the Pro League.
The Pan Arab Games recently took place in Algeria, with the host nation claiming the top spot. Algeria won a total of 253 medals, including 105 gold medals. The games showcased Algeria’s dominance in various events, such as the men’s individual road race and women’s volleyball. Tunisia secured the second position with 121 medals, while Morocco finished third with 84 medals.
In a significant announcement, Saudi Arabia was declared as the host of the 2027 Pan Arab Games. This will be the first time Saudi Arabia hosts the event since its inception in 1953. This decision signals Saudi Arabia’s growing presence in the regional sports arena.
Morocco’s participation in the Women’s World Cup and their representation of the Arab world is a beacon of hope for women’s football in the region. It is an opportunity to showcase the talent and potential in Muslim-majority countries. The tournament also highlights the efforts of Arab nations in promoting sports and hosting international events. As Morocco takes on Germany and faces off against other formidable opponents, they are determined to make their mark and inspire future generations of female footballers in the Arab world.