Fouzi Lekjaa’s performance as a president of the “FRMF” is behind Moroccan clubs’ performance in Africa.
By Busisani Ncube
Superb performances by Morocco clubs in Caf Club competitions have sent the country to the apex of interclub rankings.
Rankings released by Caf recently put Morocco at the top with 180 points following exploits that saw the country’s 4 teams reach the semi-finals of this year’s Caf Club Competitions.
The ranking is based on the performance of member association’s representatives in the total CAF Champions League and Total CAF Confederation Cup over the last five-year period.
Morocco is ahead of second placed Egypt (147 points), who are followed by Tunisia with 140 points and the DR Congo completes the top four (83).
Wydad, Raja Casablanca are in the semi-finals of this year’s Champions League while RS Berkane and Hassania D’Agadir made it in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup.
The feat also comes on the back of previous excellent showings by the country’s clubs and it is the first time in history that Morocco reached this level in such CAF rankings.
Concerted efforts through the leadership of Moroccan Royal Federation of Football president Fouzi Lekjaa finally paid off since he was elected into the position in 2014.
The FRMF believes there have been many positive factors, which combined together, made it possible for Moroccan clubs to raise the National’s flag up high in different competitions.
Lekjaa has always demonstrated full support to Moroccan clubs participating in the different African competitions organized by CAF and this led automatically to a big return of the different Moroccan teams in the continental scene.
In 2015, Moghreb Athletic Tetouan, has achieved a big step, after reaching the group stage of the CAF Champions league for the first time in their history. Moghreb managed to eliminate Al Ahly of Egypt, one of the big names in the continent, in the previous round.
Reaching that level was considered a real achievement for Moroccan clubs over the last twenty years, as there were only very few times when the representatives of the kingdom could do so since 1999, the last year when a Moroccan club, namely, Raja won the CAF Champions league.
Indeed, Raja, holders of three titles in the most prestigious competition of the continent, reached the semi-finals in 2005 and the group stage in 2011, while rivals Wydad were in the 2011 final in 2011, and the AS FAR made it to the group stages in 2007.
With Lekjaa’s new strategy since 2014, aiming to provide all kinds of help and support to Moroccan clubs in their African journey, reaching the group stage at the Champion’s league was no more the only target.
The Moroccans continued doing better every year, with Wydad Athletic Club reaching the semi-finals in 2016, and winning their second historical title in 2017 to become the first Moroccan team to achieve so since 1999.
Wydad last year also reached the quarter finals and are on course to make it to the final this year.
Difaa El Hassani D’El Jadida, is another good example of the Moroccan teams who have benefited from Lekjaa’s new strategy reaching the group stage in their first foray in the Caf Champions League.
FUS reached the semi-finals of the Confed Cup in 2016 and 2017, with Raja clinching the crown in 2018 while Berkane were in the quarterfinals the same year and last year made it to the final.
Support from Lekjaa included offering private jets each time clubs had to travel while the FRMF would also take care of all club flights if other modes were preferred and also paid all clubs’ accommodations and food in Africa.
Lekjaa believes financial controls are also critical in the success of clubs.
“Financial support and control, are among the reasons why Moroccan football clubs have been improving their performances.
“For instance, more than $ 600 000 USD was allocated to each club in the first division on a yearly basis, from the television broadcasting rights revenues,” he said.
Higher budgets enabled the teams to attract the best players in the country and in Africa each year because their financial situation was improving.
Infrastructure has always been among those main axles of Lekjaa’s strategy as well. Indeed, he gave very much importance to help each and every team in the country to improve the quality of the stadiums they play in.
A huge budget was spent by the “FRMF” on improving the quality of pitches and venues in general in different cities of the kingdom, but also a significant budget was allocated each year to all clubs in the first division of the Moroccan league “Botola” to have their training centres equipped at all levels.