Ahly striker Azaro eyes World Cup success with Morocco

By Tarek TalaatBBC Sport, Egypt
Walid Azaro (left) will join up with the Morocco squad fresh from helping Al Ahly win the Egyptian title

Morocco striker Walid Azaro says the Atlas Lions "are ready for the World Cup in Russia" as he prepares to join up with his national team-mates for their friendlies later this month.

The striker goes into the international window full of confidence after helping his club Al Ahly win a landmark 40th Egyptian League title last week.

Now, the 22-year-old has his sights set on World Cup glory with Morocco.

"I'm sure we will make the nation proud," Azaro told BBC Sport.

Morocco will play two friendly matches against Serbia on 23rd March in Italy, followed by Uzbekistan on 27 March in Casablanca as they prepare for their first World Cup finals since France '98.

Azaro says he is delighted to be part of Herve Renard's squad for the warm-up matches.

"I am always happy when I receive a call from the head coach, a call from the homeland is special for me," Egypt-based Azaro said.

The striker had not been called up by Morocco since June 2017 when he was involved in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Cameroon.

Since then, Azaro has looked impressive with Al Ahly in his first season with the club. He now has his sights set on helping Ahly win the African Champions League after they lost in last season's final.

However, he is adamant his club focus will not be a distraction from his commitments with Morocco.

"I will not need time to adapt with the national team. When I was a player with Difaâ El Jadida before joining Al Ahly I was part of the national team.

"I know the atmosphere there and that will help me.

"I'm back with the national team after my hard work with Al Ahly and I want to thank my head coach there, Hossam El Badry, who has given me his full support," Azaro said.

Morocco have been drawn in one of the toughest groups, where they fill face Iran, Portugal and Spain in Group B.

"Some people say this is the 'group of death,' but I like it. Morocco can play well against big teams, and I wanted a group like that," Azaro said.

Morocco will begin their campaign in Russia against Iran on 15 June in St Petersburg.

"I saw reports suggesting Iran are not a strong side, and that is not true. They are a very good side and this match will not be easy."

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