Morocco coach Verbeek slams Olympic qualifying dates

Morocco under-23 coach Pim Verbeek
Morocco's under-23 coach is unhappy with the dates for the final qualifying tournament for the men's Olympic football for Africa

On the eve of the draw for the final Olympic men's qualifying tournament for Africa, Morocco's under-23 coach Pim Verbeek has questioned its timing.

The eight-nation event, which is also the African Under-23 Championship, kicks off in Egypt on 26 November.

It falls outside Fifa's international match calendar and so means clubs are not obliged to release players.

"It could have been played in January when it's the winter break everywhere," Verbeek told BBC Sport.

"I cannot understand this decision - you want the best teams to go to the Olympics as they are representing Africa.

"So at this time some teams like Senegal, Nigeria and Morocco will not have their best players available so you never know.

"Now I have to beg clubs to give me players."

The Dutchman also pointed out that the players will come under pressure.

"They really want to play for the Olympic teams and go to the games but on the other hand if clubs say no there's nothing they can do."

He admitted that he did not realise the timing of the tournament when he took over as technical director of Morocco's youth teams.

"I didn't know when I signed the contract to be honest," he said.

"Because you prepare for a year finding the best players around Europe and then then in the end you can't use them."

Verbeek says he will have to beg for the release of key players like Zakaria Labyad, who plays in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven and Abdelaziz Barrada, from Spanish club Getafe.

However the former Australia coach says his side have prepared as well they possibly can.

"The preparation in Morocco is the maximum we could do with a lot of [training] camps for the local players," he said.

"We've had the best possible support from the federation and the local clubs."

The top three nations at the tournament in Egypt will qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, while the fourth-placed side faces a play-off against an Asian side.

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