Press Association

Senegal legend El Hadji Diouf believes that Morocco can break new ground for Africa at the World Cup this summer, and is particularly impressed with influential midfielder Hakim Ziyech.

The Atlas Lions downed Serbia 2-1 in an international friendly on Friday, with Ziyech and Khalid Boutaib netting for Herve Renard’s side as they registered an impressive result on the road to Russia.

The North Africans have been handed a tough World Cup draw after being pitted against Spain, Portugal and Iran, but their impressive qualifying campaign has prompted optimism that they can upset the odds this summer.

“If the Moroccan players taken confidence and tell themselves that they can write the history of African football [in Russia], they can do it,” Diouf told Moroccan broadcaster Arryadia [as per Mountakhab].

“They’re a technical team, tactical, and they have a manager who they listen to,” he added. “That’s the thing that’s really good.

“Frankly, I take my hat off to this team, that they never give anything up.”

For Diouf, Ajax’s Ziyech particularly caught the eye.

“The one player who particularly impressed me,” he added, “is the No. 7 who plays in Holland at Ajax.”

The midfielder has scored eight and weighed in with 11 assists in the Eredivisie this term – already up from 18 decisive contributions last term.

He was one of the most outstanding players in the whole of the African qualifying campaign, notably scoring twice and orchestrating the 6-0 dismantling of Mali.

Morocco continue their friendly schedule against Uzbekistan in Casablanca on Tuesday.

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