Morocco's Adel Taarabt unsure over Nations Cup participation

By Ed AaronsBBC Sport
Taarabt weighs up difficult decision

Adel Taarabt will decide after Christmas whether to play for Morocco at next month's Africa Cup of Nations in the hope Queens Park Rangers can arrest their poor run in the meantime.

QPR are bottom of the table having set a new English Premier League record of 16 matches without a win from the start of the season and Taarabt says boss Harry Redknapp has asked him not to go.

"It's difficult. At the moment, I hope to do my best here before the time comes to take a decision. But I think I will go," Taarabt told BBC Sport.

The 23-year-old midfielder said he met club boss Harry Redknapp on Monday to discuss the tournament in South Africa after being informed that new Atlas Lions coach Rachid Taoussi wants to select him.

The former Tottenham man, who has made 12 Premier League appearances this season, scoring twice, said he was desperate to play for Morocco but accepts that he faces a tough decision because his participation would mean missing up to five matches in his club's relegation battle.

"I spoke with [Redknapp] and we had a talk about whether I'm going to go or not," he continued.

"Of course, it's my country so it's a difficult decision for me because the situation with my club is difficult and the manager asked if I could stay. I would love to but it's my country so if I say no everybody at home will think I don't want to play.

"I go there every summer and if the team doesn't do well then the fans will have a go at me and I don't want that. I'm sure they can understand but think they would prefer to see me playing at the tournament."

Born in Fes, Taarabt moved to France at a young age but opted to represent Morocco at international level. He played in last year's disappointing campaign that saw them eliminated in the group stages in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

But having been grouped with hosts Bafana Bafana, Angola and Cup of Nations debutants Cape Verde this time around, Taarabt believes Morocco stand a good chance of making a real impression.

He said: "It will be different because it is in South Africa. Last year the conditions were not the best because it was in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and no disrespect to those countries but for us 85% of the team was playing in Europe so going to Africa where the pitches are not that good doesn't help us.

"I think that South Africa is perfect - nice hotels, good pitches from the World Cup so we think this is great. The next one is in Morocco as well so the next two tournaments will be in the two best countries in Africa [for us]."

QPR team-mate Samba Diakite has already indicated that he would prefer to help his club fight against relegation than represent Mali in the continental showpiece.

Taarabt believes now may be the time for the Confederation of African Football to consider bringing the competition in line with the biennial European Championships to stop more players opting to miss out.

"The best thing would be to have it at the same time as the Euros in the summer because that makes it easier for the clubs," he said.

"The first thing is that we are employed by our clubs so it is difficult just to leave. You can understand if they are unhappy."

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