Fiery Juve defender leads Morocco hopes at World Cup

Thursday May 17 2018

Juventus' Moroccan defender Medhi Benatia (second left) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Tim Cup (Coppa Italia) final against AC Milan at the Olympic stadium on May 9, 2018 in Rome. PHOTO | TIZIANA FABI |

Juventus' Moroccan defender Medhi Benatia (second left) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Tim Cup (Coppa Italia) final against AC Milan at the Olympic stadium on May 9, 2018 in Rome. PHOTO | TIZIANA FABI |  AFP

By AFP
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Fiery Juventus defender Medhi Benatia took centre stage Thursday as Morocco coach Herve Renard named his 23-man squad for the World Cup.

Benatia, fresh from helping Juventus to the Italian league-cup double, is one of 19 players in the squad who ply their trade in Europe.

He seems set to be not too far from the headlines in Russia after a dramatic campaign in Italy which saw club coach Massimiliano Allegri telling him to "shut up" during a match.

It was also former Bayern Munich star Benatia who conceded the controversial late penalty which gave Real Madrid a place in the Champions League semi-finals at the expense of the Italians in April.

Morocco are in Group B at the World Cup finals which get underway on June 14 along with Spain, Portugal and Iran.

Morocco last played at the World Cup in 1998.

Morocco squad:

Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (CD Numancia/ESP), Yassine Bounou (Girona/ESP), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (IRT/MAR)

Defenders: Medhi Benatia (Juventus/ITA), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton/ENG), Manuel Da Costa (Basaksehir/TUR), Badr Benoun (RCA/MAR), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce/TUR), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid/ESP), Hamza Mendyl (Lille/FRA)

Midfielders: M'barek Boussoufa (Al Jazira/UAE), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord/ NED), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen/FRA), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord/NED), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray/TUR), Faycal Fajr (Getafe/ESP), Amine Harit (Schalke 04/ GER), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes/ESP)

Forwards: Khalid Boutaib (Malatyaspor/TUR), Aziz Bouhaddouz (Saint Pauli/GER), Ayoub El Kaabi (RSB/MAR), Mehdi Carcela (Standard Liege/BEL), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax Amsterdam/NED)