Morocco may make a U-turn over CHAN withdrawal

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Morocco’s English newspaper, Morocco World News has reported that the  country’s football team may still travel to Algeria for their African Nations Championship title defense if they get a positive response from the hosts, Algeria.

The football federation previously said the team would be withdrawing from the competition. But according to the publication, Morocco’s national football team of local players is still making preparations for the African CHAN championship at the Mohammed VI complex, and is “ready to travel at any time,” President of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation Fouzi Lekjaa told sports channel Arryadia on Thursday.

“All we are awaiting is related to the organizers of the competition who need to give authorization for the national team to travel on a Royal Air Maroc airplane,” Lekjaa explained

He added that the airline is the official transport partner for all of Morocco’s national football teams.

“As you know, we are a short distance away, and it requires a short flight time,” he went on to say. “At any time that we receive a positive response, the national team is ready and equipped to travel to Constantine to participate in CHAN.”

Lekjaa also said that if an authorization is not given, the Moroccan team would be robbed of the chance to play in a tournament that they spent a long time getting ready for, as well as the chance to defend their title.

In December, Lekjaa announced that Morocco would boycott the continental tournament if the Moroccan team was not allowed to travel directly from Rabat to Constantine, the host of the tournament, on a Royal Air Maroc plane.

The tournament is set to kick off this Friday, and Morocco, being the defending champions and the holders of the most titles (DR Congo and Morocco both have two), would be conspicuous by its absence from the event.

Faced with Morocco’s demand for a direct flight route, Algerian officials have shirked their country’s responsibility in the matter.  Rachid Oukali, the head of the CHAN organizing committee, has said that the host country is not responsible for ensuring direct travel routes for the participating teams.

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