Morocco: Rachid Taoussi crowned Lion King of the Atlas Mountains
Moroccan born, Rachid Taoussi, 56, was appointed head coach of the Lions of the Atlas last weekend by the Morocco FA (FRMF) to replace Eric Geret, at a moment’s notice. The Belgian was sacked last September 14 because of the team’s poor performance. Taoussi was selected from a short list featuring big names like Badou Zaki, former coach of Kawkab Marrakech, Aziz Amri, who has been coach of Moghreb of Tetouan and Raja of Casablanca’s ex coach, M’hamed Fakhir. Himself formerly head coach of the Forces of the Royal Army, Rabat (FAR), Taoussi’s primary task in his new job is to see the Lions of the Atlas Mountain qualify for the continent’s biggest international football showdown, the Afcon Cup, billed for South Africa next year. A mission that has been made more difficult for the sweat merchant by a 2-0 defeat inherited from Geret’s first leg qualifier campaign against Mozambique in Maputo. The Moroccan coach has a very difficult but possible mission — that of making sure his boys score at least three goals without conceding any in the return leg game in Marrakech come October 13. However, it seems the outcome of the Morocco-Mozambique 2013 Afcon Cup return leg qualifier would not be the only thing to define the destiny of Geret’s heir. Rachid Taoussi has set two objectives for himself: to qualify Morocco for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and to prepare the squad that would compete at the 2015 Afcon Cup which they would host. A very interesting and passionate plan provided the decision makers of Morocco’s FA would not back out at the slightest crack. With a monthly salary of 250000 Euros, the Belgian had a little less than two years to prove his worth. Would Rachid Taoussi have as much time with a salary obviously ten times less than his predecessor’s?
Even though he has received a limited media attention, the native of Sidi Kacem has an impressive career. 2011 was the juiciest year of his career as he pulled a hard trick of trophies — the national cup, CAF Cup and African Super Cup with Moghreb of Fès, — repeating his Tunisian counterpart, Nabil Maaloul’s feat achieved while coaching Esperance of Tunis. At the end of a very sumptuous season in 2011, he was sought by all the giant clubs in the country like never before. In 2012, Taoussi joined FAR of Rabat, one of the big four in the kingdom. The former Union of Sidi Kacem player (a team he helped win the Moroccan championships in 1989) is not a novice in the coaching business. He has worked for the Moroccan Royal federation before where he was brought in to train the U-20 squad. In 1997, for the first time in the country’s football history, Morocco’s U-20 squad, coached by Taoussi, lifted the African Cup of nations in this age category. The following year in 1998, he went on adventure to the World Cup as Henri Michel’s assistant. And then in 2000, he was appointed technical director of the national team. Evidently, Rachid Taoussi is familiar with the system and would need very little time to adapt. By the way, everyone, or almost everyone, including the media, seemed to have agreed with the FA’s choice of Rachid Taoussi.