Morocco v Central African Republic: Hosts out to put Bellarabi blow behind them

7 October 2014 17:31

Morocco will hope to put their latest selection blow behind them when they host Central African Republic in a friendly on Thursday.

Head coach Badou Zaki has named a strong squad for this week’s clash as Morocco continue preparations ahead of their hosting of next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

However, one player he will be without is Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi – who has instead accepted a call-up from world champions Germany for their Euro 2016 qualification double-header against Poland and the Republic of Ireland.

In-form Bellarabi, who has scored three goals in seven Bundesliga appearances for Leverkusen this season, would have provided Zaki with an injection of quality prior to their home Cup of Nations campaign.

However, the 24-year-old has opted to follow the lead of Barcelona youngster Munir El Haddadi, who turned down Moroccan overtures to play for Spain last month.

Zaki commented: “If you come to Morocco, welcome, and if you choose to play for Germany, it’s your decision.”

The coach has decided to call-up Aatif Chahechouhe and Abderrazak Hamdallah to complement strikers Zakaria Hadraf and Mouhcine Iajour as he looks to build on his side’s 3-0 win over a weakened Libya team last month.

Star defender Mehdi Benatia, of Bayern Munich, is also available.

Central African Republic, meanwhile, head into the fixture hoping that their new coach, Raoul Savoy, can help reverse their dreadful recent fortunes.

They have not won since a 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso in September 2012, but Savoy – a former manager of Ethiopia and Swaziland – believes he can oversee an upturn in form.

“There is a real potential, locally and with expatriate players,” he told upon his appointment in August.

“Now there will be a transition period, [after] the failure to participate in the group stage of qualifying for the next Africa Cup of Nations.

“This time should be used to motivate everyone so that Fauves soon participate in an international competition.”