Renard names four uncapped players in first Morocco squad

Herve Renard
Herve Renard

Morocco's new coach Herve Renard has named four uncapped players in his first squad ahead of their two 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Cape Verde.

Renard, who led Ivory Coast to the Nations Cup title in 2015 - three years after winning it with Zambia - replaced Badou Zaki as Morocco coach last month.

His provisional squad for the Group F games includes Gazelec Ajaccio striker Khalid Boutaib, who was eligible to play for his country of birth France but opted for Morocco.

The maiden call-up is recognition for Boutaib, 28, who has impressed for his French Ligue 1 side this season with eight goals in 27 appearances.

Former Netherlands youth international Oussama Tannane, AS Nancy midfielder Youssef Aït Bennasser and Real Madrid B defender Achraf Hakimi are the others hoping to win first caps.

Renard has also handed a shock recall to Palermo defender Abdelhamid El Kaoutari, who is on loan at French side Reims.

El Kaoutari last played for the Atlas Lions in a friendly against Burkina Faso in August 2013.

However, there is no place in the squad for Sofiane Boufal despite reports suggesting that the Paris-born midfielder has pledged his international future to the North African country.

The 34-man squad also includes in-form Granada striker Youssef El-Arabi, Bayern Munich defender Mehdi Benatia and Schalke's Younes Belhanda.

Morocco will travel to Praia to face Cape Verde on 26 March before hosting Africa's top-ranked side in Agadir three days later.

The two countries are joint top of Group F having won both their matches so far, with Cape Verde ahead on goal difference. Libya and Sao Tome are the other teams in the pool.

The Atlas Lions have also progressed to the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Provisional Morocco squad:

Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia, Spain), Yassine Bounou (Real Zaragoza, Spain), Abdelali M'Hamdi (RSB Berkane)

Defenders: Mehdi Benatia (Bayern Munich, Germany), El Kaoutari (Reims, France), Issam Chebake (Le Havre, France), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid B, Spain), Nabil Dirar (Monaco, France), Marouane Da Costa (Olympiakos, Greece), Mohamed Oulhaj (Raja Casablanca), Achraf Lazaar (Palermo, Italy), Hamza Mendyl (Lille, France), Romain Saïss (Angers, France)

Midfielder: Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord , Netherlands), Mounir Obbadi (Lille, France), Younes Belhanda (Schalke, Germany), Abdelaziz Barrada (Marseille, France), Omar El Kaddouri (Napoli, Italy), Fayçal Fajr (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain), Youssef Aït Bennasser (Nancy, France), Nordin Amrabat (Watford, England), Mehdi Carcela-González (Benfica, Portugal), Hakim Ziyech (Twente, Netherlands), Mbark Boussoufa (Gent, Belgium), Walid El Karti (WAC)

Forwards: Khalid Boutaïb (GFC Ajaccio, France), Oussama Tannane (Saint-Etienne, France), Badi Aouk (HUSA), Morad Batna (FUS), Yacine Bamou (Nantes, France), Youssef El Arabi (Granada, Spain) Youssef Naciri (Malaga, Spain), Abdelghani Mouaoui (IRT), AbderRazak Hamadellah (El Jaish, Qatar)

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