Pedigree Morocco has an encouraging balance: an obdurate defense flanked by two of the world’s best fullbacks, Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui; a midfield graced by the scheming of Hakim Ziyech; and an attack spearheaded by Youssef En-Nesyri. Qualification was suitably straightforward, and expectations are high.

The Curse Vahid Halilhodzic, a Bosnian and one of soccer’s great knights errant, oversaw Morocco’s qualification for the tournament, meaning he has now taken four teams to the World Cup in a long, distinguished and adventurous career. He has, though actually coached only one team at a World Cup. Morocco maintained that pattern by firing him in August.

Key Question The rationale behind Halilhodzic’s dismissal was that he had ostracized two of Morocco’s stars, Ziyech and Mazraoui, for disciplinary reasons. Now he is gone and they are back. Both will be under pressure to prove that was the correct decision.

Full squad list.

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