Wydad coach Zoran Manojlovic thrilled to work in Morocco

By Jalal BounouarFootball Writer, Morocco
Wydad Casablanca's Serbian coach Zoran Manojlovic
Wydad Casablanca's Serbian coach Zoran Manojlovic worked with World Cup winner Rivaldo when the two were at Angolan side Kubuscorp

The usually reticent Serbian coach Zoran Manojlovic says he is thrilled to be working at Morocco's Wydad Casablanca.

The 57-year-old began his coaching career in Portugal before heading to Angola.

"It is a good experience to work here in Morocco as head coach of one of the best clubs in Africa. The work here is going very well," he told BBC Sport.

"The Moroccan league is one of the best in Africa along with Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.

"The Casablanca derby is amazing with 60,000 fans attending - half Wydad half Raja, it is a very good game and no matter the result Moroccan football is the winner."

He had his first taste of the derby on 2 November in the first leg of the second round of the Arab Champions League, the first time the two have met in an international tournament.

The match ended 1-1 with the second leg due to played on 23 November.

As well as the Arab Champions League Wydad are aiming to retain their Moroccan league title and to progress in the African Champions League, a title they last won in 2017.

He took over at Wydad shortly after last year's controversial Champions League final which was abandoned during the second leg as Wydad protested that VAR was not used to check a disallowed equaliser.

The Tunisian side were awarded the title after the Confederation of African Football had initially order a replay.

The group stage of this year's tournament begins at the end of November with Wydad up against USM Alger of Algeria, South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns and Angolan side Petro Atletico.

"As for the Champions League, we are aiming to reach the semi-final but to do that luck is very important," he insisted.

"There are other strong teams who will compete with us to win the title this year: Al Ahly, Esperance and TP Mazembe."

Working with Rivaldo

He insists that he has the quality in his squad to succeed but warned his players against complacency.

"In my team I have five or six players who are capable of playing in Europe but I would say that in generally Moroccan players must strive to play well all the time," he said.

The problem is that sometimes a player plays one or two good games and then think that everything is OK but they must keep that same level for five, six, seven and more games.

"It is a question of mentality. It must be stronger."

During his time in Angola he was the assistant coach at Kubuscorp at the same time that Brazilian former World Footballer of the Year Rivaldo was at the club.

"I worked with him for a year and he is not just 100% professional but 200%," he said.

"Even though he was one of the best players in the world he would always say to me 'no problem coach I will do my best'.

"Many times after training, he would stay for an extra 20 minutes to work very hard. He is one of the best players that I have ever coached."

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