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Wydad win a boost for Moroccan football

Football
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Morocco boss Herve Renard wants more from Southampton flop Sofiane Boufal

Herve Renard has explained that a lack of gametime at Southampton is why Sofiane Boufal was not included in Morocco's squad to face Mali in Friday's World Cup qualifier, with the coach calling on the playmaker to show him more.

Boufal struggled to demonstrate his class at St. Mary's Stadium last term after signing from LOSC Lille, making 24 Premier League appearances - of which only 12 were starts - scoring just once.

While the attacking midfielder scored a wondergoal to down Sunderland in the EFL Cup, he appeared not to have the complete trust of former coach Claude Puel, and has played just 19 minutes under his successor Mauricio Pellegrino this term.

"I contacted Boufal because I like to explain things well to the people who I admire," Renard told journalists [as per Le 360]. "I told him that he hadn't had enough game time recently.

"I also encouraged him to redouble his efforts."

While Boufal hasn't returned to the squad, another player who missed out on the Africa Cup of Nations - Ajax's Hakim Ziyech - is included, with Medhi Benatia also making his return to the fold after previously announcing his international retirement.

"I'm very, very happy to get Benatia and Ziyech back again," Renard added. "For the confrontations that we still have to come in the group, we need experience and talent.

"I think these two players have these qualities."

One experienced player who won't be available for Renard is Real Betis new boy Zou Feddal, who was overlooked by the coach after a bad reaction during Morocco's Africa Cup of Nations qualifying defeat by Cameroon.

This prompted the centre-back to declare that he wouldn't play for the Atlas Lions again while the Frenchman was in charge.

"Feddal is a player who I admire," Renard added. "I don't think this decision comes from him alone, but he really must think before coming out with these kinds of comments."

Morocco currently sit second in Group C after taking two points from their opening fixtures - goalless draws away in Gabon and at home against Renard's previous employers the Ivory Coast.

The former Lille boss failed to reach the World Cup during his time as Zambia coach, while Morocco are looking to end their two-decade wait for a spot at the global high table after missing out on the last four editions.

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.

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