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Morocco FA in talks with ex-Inter Milan & Napoli coach Mazzarri over Atlas Lions job

20:01 SAST 2022/08/16
Walter Mazzarri Cagliari
The Italian tactician has reportedly held ‘positive’ meetings in Rabat regarding the national team vacancy after sacking their coach

Former Napoli, Inter Milan and Watford coach Walter Mazzarri is reportedly in talks to take over the Morocco national team job following the sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic last week.

According to Football Italia, Mazzarri has been in Morocco for talks with the country’s FA president Fouzi Lekjaa over the job and after a "positive" meeting, he could be appointed this week.

While explaining why Halilhodzic was sent packing, Lekjaa promised to name a new coach this month while setting high targets for whoever gets the job.

“In addition to preparing the national team for the World Cup, our goals are clear: a qualification for the World Cup and the African Cup of Nations is not negotiable,” Lekjaa told EFE last week.

“Since we are the second team in Africa (behind Senegal, according to the Fifa ranking), we must reach the final of the African Nations Cup. We have a year to prepare for this event, which will take place in January 2024 in Ivory Coast."

Mazzarri is currently without a job after leaving Serie A side Cagliari in May, having spent one season with the Sardinian club.

The 60-year-old usually takes a break in between jobs, but it appears that could change given Morocco gives him an opportunity to coach at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar where the Atlas Lions are in Group F, alongside Belgium, Canada and Croatia.

Mazzarri has handled 10 clubs in his 21-year coaching career, nine of them in Italy, with a one-year spell at Watford (2016-2017) in between. He handled Napoli between 2009 and 2013, winning the Coppa Italia (2011-12) before finishing second in Serie A the following season.

He then joined Inter in May 2013 but left in November 2014 after a series of poor performances and after a two-year break, he took over at Watford. Mazzarri has also coached Acireale, Pistoiese, Livorno, Reggina, Sampdoria and Torino.

If he gets the job, the Italian will need to first unite the dressing room, which has had a frosty relationship with Halilhodzic which was one of the main reasons for his dismissal.

It is highly likely that Morocco’s new coach will recall Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech, who retired from national team duties last year, following a disagreement with the Franco-Bosnian tactician.

“The national team cannot exclude high-level Moroccan players who play in teams all over the world, whatever the reason, that was how the fans and players felt,” Lekjaa said.