Belhanda injury hampers Morocco's football medal hopes at London 2012
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
July 10 - Younes Belhanda has been left out of Morocco's squad for the London 2012 Olympic football tournament, a significant blow for the North African country.
The Montpellier midfielder (pictured top) is struggling with an ankle injury and therefore is not included in the 18-man squad.
Belhanda was regarded as one of the best players in France last season, helping Montpellier to a shock league title, the first in the club's history.
His creativity and guile would have been of huge benefit for coach Pim Verbeek's squad this summer.
Despite Belhanda's absence, Queens Park Rangers midfielder Adel Taarabt has surprisingly also been left out of the squad.
Getafe's Abdelaziz Barrada (pictured below) will be a key figure for Verbeek, the midfielder being the top scorer during the African qualifiers for London 2012.
Fiorentina's Houcine Kharja will captain the squad as one of the two overage players called up by Verbeek, along with Kayserispor forward Nordin Amrabat.
Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh was overlooked for the third spot designed for players over the age of 23, with Morocco instead opting to go for youth.
Augsburg's Mohamed Amsif and Yassine Bounou of Atlético Madrid are the two goalkeepers in the squad.
Mohamed Aberhoune, Zakarya Bergdich, Abdelhamid El Kaoutari, Zouhair Feddal, Yassine Jebbour and Abdelatif Noussair will vie to play in Verbeek's defence.
Other midfielders called up are Omar El Kaddouri, Driss Fettouhi, Imad Najah and Rayane Frikech.
Forwards Soufiane Bidaoui, Soufian El Hassnaoui and Zakaria Labyad complete the squad.
December 2011: Morocco book place at London 2012 with victory over Egypt