Morocco’s youth team has departed the Rabat-Sale International Airport, heading to Algeria’s Constantine to participate in the U-17 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), Morocco’s Royal Football Federation (FRMF) has confirmed.
Algeria allowed a direct travel route for the team on Thursday following pressure from FIFA, according to converging reports.
The competition will kick off on Saturday and will last until May 19. Morocco will play in Group B alongside Nigeria, Zambia, and South Africa.
FRMF official Mohamed Boudrika confirmed that the team had secured a direct travel route on Thursday.
The lead-up to the tournament was overshadowed by doubts over the team’s participation due to the ongoing tensions with Algeria.
As with the latest African Nations Championship (CHAN), the FRMF had conditioned its U-17 team’s participation in the continental tournament on the possibility of travelling directly from Rabat to Constantine.
Morocco had ended up forfeiting their participation in the CHAN as Algeria denied the FRMF’s request for a direct travel route.
Algeria closed its airspace to Morocco after it severed its ties with its neighbour in 2021 after decades of tensions around Algerian support for the separatist Polisario Front.
This year marks the Moroccan U-17 team’s third appearance in the continental tournament. Their best performance came in 2013 when they finished fourth.
FRMF President Fouzi Lekjaa also held a meeting on Thursday night to “motivate” the players, the federation said, adding that the senior national team’s technical staff led by Walid Regragui were also present.
Regragui stressed the importance of representing Morocco in continental competitions, urging the players to think of the group and not be selfish in order to achieve success at the tournament.
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