The path has been cleared for Morocco to travel and participate in the 2023 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), set to begin this weekend in Algeria.
A long-standing diplomatic feud between the cross-border neighbours prevented Morocco from taking part in the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) tournament earlier this year after insisting on flying directly to the host country.
With the U-17 Afcon just 48 hours away from kickoff, it was feared that the standoff might extend to the Atlas Cubs who are scheduled to compete in Group B against Nigeria, Zambia and South Africa.
“The U-17 national team will not participate in the next Afcon if we do not take a direct flight to Algeria as indicated by Caf regulations,” President of the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa told the media a couple of weeks ago.
But a successful intervention this time by Fifa president Gianni Infantino and Caf boss Dr. Patrice Motsepe has led to a successful negotiation that allows the FRMF to fly its male U-17 team direct from Rabat to their group base – the city of Constantine.
Footy-Ghana.com gathers that the Morocco team will not fly the national airline – Royal Air Maroc. A Fifa-sponsored private plane will fly the Atlas Cubs from the Mohammed VI Football Complex in Rabat-Sale direct to Constantine as part of the truce.
The Morocco U-17 contingent is expected to enter Algeria on Friday.
The 2023 U-17 Afcon kicks off Saturday, April 29 with the final scheduled for May 19.
How Morocco qualified
The Atlas Cubs are champions of the North Africa qualifying zone where they beat every opponent in sight – 2-0 vs Tunisia, 1-0 vs Libya and 2-1 against Egypt.
Group B Fixture schedule:
– vs South Africa – April 30 – 19:00 GMT
– vs Nigeria – May 3 – 19:00 GMT
– vs Zambia – May 3 – 19:00 GMT
What’s at stake:
The championship title and four qualifying spots for the 2023 Under-17 Fifa World Cup later in the year. All Afcon semifinalists secure World Cup tickets.