Morocco’s women’s national team will be making their World Cup debut later this year at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to compete in the tournament.
The women’s national team have been making strides over recent years in changing the landscape and perceptions of women’s football in North Africa and Arab countries.
The men’s side well and truly put Morocco on the footballing map after their recent success at the FIFA Men’s World Cup last year, with a fourth-placed finish. In less than six months the women’s side will look to do the same and inspire a generation of Moroccan girls.
The rise and success of Moroccan football is no coincidence. Although the women’s side only formed 25 years ago and is still very much in its infancy stage, it is well backed by the national football federation.
In 2020 The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (RMFF) revealed a development plan that will run until 2024. The plan outlined a focus on creating a pathway for women’s football, actively engaging young girls in the sport and developing the domestic leagues.
The RMFF has continued to invest heavily and show their commitment to women’s football by hosting the Women’s African Cup of Nations last year, becoming the first Arab country to do so. Morocco not only acted as hosts, but their footballing talent was on show as they narrowly missed out on the title, losing to South Africa in the final, defeating 11-time winners Nigeria in the process.
The final was a landmark moment for African women’s football as a crowd of over 50,000 watched the final, with tickets selling out two hours before kick-off.
After a successful campaign at the 2022 WAFCON star striker, Ghizlane Chebbak said: “This is just the beginning for women’s football here”.
The success of WAFCON earned Morocco qualification to the FIFA 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The Atlas Lionesses have been placed in Group H alongside Columbia, Korea Republic and two times world champions, Germany.
The underdog narrative for the men’s side at the 2022 World Cup is one they very much seemed to thrive off and head coach, Reynald Pedros will hope the same for his side as they challenge themselves among some of the best footballing countries.
Although not yet household names there is plenty of talent in the Moroccan side that will be hoping to show themselves on the world stage.
British-born Rosella Ayane is a forward for Spurs who is eligible to play for Morocco through her Moroccan father. The 26-year-old has been part of the Moroccan national team since 2021 and in this time has made 15 appearances scoring 7 times. She made an instant impact on her debut scoring within a minute of coming on in a victory over Mali.
Another one to watch is Moroccan top scorer, scoring 20 goals, Ghizlane Chebbaak who look to continue her goal-scoring form into the World Cup. The 32-year-old plays for division one side ASFAR in Morocco. She was named player of the tournament at the 2022 Africa Women's Cup of Nations.
The Atlas Lionesses will kick off their World Cup campaign against Columbia on the 25th of July in Sydney.