Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia back for Morocco

Morocco's Mehdi Benatia in action for Juventus
Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia played for Morocco against Iran and Portugal at the World Cup in Russia

Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia has been named in the Morocco squad for the first time since the World Cup in Russia.

Morocco coach Herve Renard has announced a 26-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Cameroon on 16 November.

The Atlas Lions will also travel to play Tunisia four days later in a friendly.

Benatia, 31, has missed the Atlas Lions last three Nations Cup qualifiers.

He decided to concentrate on his club commitments in Italy with the return of Leonardo Bonucci to Juventus.

So far this season Benatia has played just five times in the in all competitions for the Italian champions.

There is also a recall for Celta Vigo's Sofiane Boufal for the first time since before the World Cup in Russia.

Boufal came on as a substitute for Morcco in a pre-World Cup friendly against Uzbekistan in February and then failed to make the squad for the finals in Russia.

He has played nine times in Spain's La Liga so far this season scoring twice.

The squad also confirms a first call-up for Netherlands-born Oussama Idrissi after he decided to play international football for Morocco.

His club in the Netherlands AZ Alkmaar had already announced his inclusion in Morocco coach Herve Renard's plans on its website.external-link

The 22-year-old has played for Netherlands at various youth levels but is eligible for Morocco through his parents.

A win for Morocco against Cameroon will put them one point away from qualifying for the finals next year from Group B.

Cameroon qualify automatically as hosts meaning there is only one qualifying place available from the group that also includes Malawi and Comoros.

The Atlas Lions are in pole position to advance despite being held to a 2-2 draw in Comoros last time out and only beating the same opponents 1-0 with an injury time goal three days earlier.

Morocco squad:

Goalkeepers: Munir El-Kajoui (Malaga, Spain), Yassine Bounou (Girona, Spain) Ahmed Reda (Wydad Casablanca)

Defenders: Medhi Benatia (Juventus. Italy), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Manuel da Costa (Istanbul Basaksehir, Turkey), Romain Saïss (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Achraf Hakimi (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax, Netherlands), Oualid El Hajjam (Amiens, France), Achraf Dari (Wydad Casablanca)

Midfielders: Hakim Ziyech (Ajax, Netherlands), Mbark Boussoufa (no club), Karim El Ahmadi (Al-Ittihad, Saudi Arabia), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray, Turkey), Nordin Amrabat (Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia), Faycal Fajr (Caen, France), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Monaco, France), Abdelilah Hafidi 30 (Raja Casablanca), Sofiane Boufal (Celta Vigo, Spain), Amine Harit (Schalke 04, Germany)

Forwards: Oussama Idrissi (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Khalid Boutaib (Yeni Malatyaspor, Turkey), Youssef En-Nesyri (Leganes, Spain), Ayoub El Kaabi (Hebei China Fortune, China), Walid Azaro (Al Ahly, Egypt)

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