Seakanyeng: Morocco can compete with the best in the world
* The Zebras forward, who spent three seasons playing in Morocco
* Morocco has made good strides to emulate South Africa
* Who were the first African country to host FIFA World Cup back in 2010
* Morocco has international standards, from stadiums to top infrastructure
By Duncan Mlanjira
As Confederation of African Football (CAF) prepares to announce the hosts of the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on February 10, Botswana international Karabo Seakanyeng believes the North Africans have what it takes in terms of infrastructure to host the coveted tournament — including the FIFA World Cup.
The Zebras forward, who spent three seasons playing in Morocco, joins former Liberia international George Weah, former South African coach Pitso Mosimane and former Cameroun international, Antoine Bell — saying Morocco has made good strides to emulate South Africa, who were the first African country to host the global tournament back in 2010.
“I spent three years in Morocco after some time in Malta,” Seakanyeng is quoted as saying. “I never really felt the difference because Morocco has international standards, from stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world.
“I think the rate at which the game is growing in Morocco is a testament to how much the Kingdom has invested in the game. I believe they will represent Africa very well,” he emphasized.
Morocco has yet to host the Africa Cup of Nations since 1988 but has raised the bar in terms of standards and according to businessghana.com, the North Africans keep scoring major points in its bid “after the country passed strict FIFA prerequisite criteria for the organisation of an expanded new-look FIFA World Cup”.
Businessghana.com further reports that last week, Morocco became the only country to successfully get the greenlight in the strict FIFA prerequisite criteria specifications on sports, hotel, health and infrastructures that make a country eligible to organise the FIFA World Cup under its new format of an increase from 32 to 48 teams.
Initially, Guinea were supposed to host it but have since withdrawn, with Algeria, Morocco, Zambia and Nigeria-Benin now in the race for the hosting rights.
Media reports indicate that undoubtedly, Morocco have demonstrated that they are capable of hosting the tournament as they boast of stadiums with over 45,000 seating capacity in Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech and Agadir.
The Mohammed VI Football Complex exemplifies as one of the best football centres in the world while Morocco’s impressive rail and road networks could be an added advantage.
The bidding process for the 2025 were opened by CAF in October last year in which member associations were invited to express their interest, whose deadline for submitting the Declaration of Interest form was November 11, 2022 and December 16 as deadline for submitting final bids.
On January 5-25, were infrastructure inspection visits and February 10 as the day to appoint the successful host country by CAF Executive Committee.
Businessghana.com further reports that this is not the first time Morocco gets the thumbs up after a task force composed of dozens of experts travelled throughout Morocco for several months in 2018 before awarding an above-average score that made the Kingdom’s bid eligible for the 2026 World Cup.
The news comes just days after former Liberia international, George Weah — who is also the country’s President — led loud calls from African legends for Morocco to win the the 2025 AFCON bid.
The 1995 Ballon d’Or winner, who remains the only African ever to be crowned the best player in the world, is a big admirer of Morocco’s massive investment in football.
He is quoted by businessghana.com as saying: “Liberia fully endorses and supports Morocco’s bid to host Afcon 2025. I have made this commitment to King Mohamed VI. It is cast in stone.”
The 56-year-old, whose 18-year glittering career took him to top European clubs, including Monaco, AC Milan and Chelsea, further told the online publication that Morocco was a shining example on and off the field — emphasizing that North African country has one of the best football infrastructures in Africa.
This also comes at the back of Morocco’s fairlytale appearance at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup where the Atlas Lions became the first African country to reach the semi-finals.
They were grouped alongside Belgium (whom they beat 2-0); Canada (winning 2-1) before drawing 0-0 with Croatia to date Spain in Round of 16 whom they beat 3-0 through post match penalties.
The Atlas Lions went on to beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s heavily-fancied Portugal 1-0 to make history of reaching the semifinals in their sixth World Cup appearance — and against another world football giants, defending champions France — which was a different ball game altogether that saw them lose 0-2.
The Atlas Lions became the fourth African nation to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup, following in the footsteps of Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010).
Until then, none from Africa — or the Arab world — had ever made it to the last four, with only Senegal making it into the Qatar 2022 knockout stages where they lost 0-3 against England in the Round of 16, having qualified in Group A alongside hosts Qatar (3-1), Ecuador (2-1) and Netherlands (0-2).
Tunisia, Cameroon and Ghana never made it to the knockout stages in their groups — Tunisia in Group D with France (1-0), Australia (0-1) and Denmark (0-0); Cameroon in Group G with Brazil (1-0); Serbia (3-3) and Switzerland (0-1 while Ghana in Group H were against Portugal (2-3); Uruguay (0-2) and South Korea (3-2).
Morocco’s women’s national team finished as runners-up to South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations last year.
Businessghana.com further reports that legendary former Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane — just as Weah — also showered praise on Morocco for their football development.
He is quoted as saying: “I don’t know how long it is going to take us, South Africa, to get to where Morocco is in terms of infrastructure and facilities to develop coaches and programmes to develop players.”
Also joining Mosimane and Weah is former Indomitable Lions international, Antoine Bell, saying Morocco should host not only AFCON but the World Cup in 2030.
He went further and called for South Africa to support Morocco’s bid to bring the World Cup to Africa again.
“South Africa showed the way, and I am confident Morocco will follow suit,” he is quoted as saying. “The country has international standards, from stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world.
“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens; hence South Africa needs to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience, and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2026 bid.”