The darling Moroccan team which made history last month during the FIFA world cup by becoming the first African team ever to reach the semi-finals of the world cup has confirmed its exit from the African Nations Championship (CHAN) tournament which starts Friday 13th January 2023.
According to the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), the team failed to fly to Algerian city of Constantine because of failure to permit its flight with Royal Air Maroc, the team’s official transporter.
“The Moroccan national team is unable to reach the Algerian city of Constantine because permission for their flight with Royal Air Maroc, the team’s official transporters, has not been confirmed,” FRMF said.
Details emerging indicate that the host of the CHAN tournament, Algeria closed its airspace to all Moroccan flights in September 2021, a month after it cut off diplomatic ties with Morocco accusing it of hostile acts.
According to political analysts, the dual North African states have been parallel over a disputed Western Sahara region and relations with Israel.
Consequently, the Atlas lions’ withdrawal came with just less than 24 hours before the commencement of the tournament in Algeria, despite the Confederation of African Football (CAF) last month’s statement that Algeria had issued an authorisation in principle for the flight.
Since then, CAF has remained silent about the team’s failure to play in the CHAN tournament though there is hope for it to release a statement to clarify more on the incident.