Road to Colombia
Having been drawn into a group with the last two African champions – Egypt and Libya – Morocco knew that they had a fight on their hand if they wanted to secure one of three tickets to Colombia on offer by escaping the group phase at the CAF Africa Futsal Cup of Nations. Surprisingly, the Atlas Lions were the first team to book their semi-final place after beating Angola and Libya in their opening two matches. They could even afford to lose to Egypt in their final group game. A comfortable 4-1 win against Mozambique in the semi-final saw them make sure of their World Cup ticket and a 3-2 win against Egypt in the final, giving them a first African title was – so to say – just the cherry on top.
Strengths and styles
It is hardly surprising that the Atlas Lions were crowned African champions for the first time in their history. Not only did the North Africans concede fewer goals than any other team in the semi-finals, their 17 goals scored was also a considerable achievement. At the back, Morocco coach Hicham Dguig can count on the goalkeeping exploits of Rabie Zaari, while upfront Adil Habil was influential in the sides' triumph. The captain scored four goals, including the all-important late winner against Egypt in the final.
FIFA Futsal World Cup record
For African champions Morocco, Colombia 2016 is the second time the Atlas Lions will be participating at the Futsal World Cup. After coming close to qualifying in 2004 and 2008 – both times losing in the semi-finals of the continental competition – the North Africans finally managed to book their ticket to the global event by beating Mozambique in the final round of qualifying in 2012. Their performance in Thailand was disappointing though, as they finished last in their group, losing all three matches against Spain, Iran and Panama.