The famous orange kit of the Netherlands may be missing from the World Cup after a poor show out in qualifying, but they’re still technically here, thanks to Morocco.
This is because 5 Dutch-born players are likely to feature for the African nation in their Group B game against Iran this coming Friday.
Morocco’s foreign-born contingent include midfielders Moubarak Boussoufa, Karim El Ahmadi, forward Hakim Ziyech, and the Amrabat brothers – forward Nordin and midfielder Sofyan.
Indeed, 17 of Morocco’s 23-man squad in Russia were born outside the country but qualify to play because of dual nationality.
In growing trends, players born in Europe now often dominate many major African national teams and are actively sought out to strengthen sides.
So, whilst the Netherlands, 3rd place finisher only 4-year ago, missed out this year after defeats to the likes of France and Bulgaria, there are many Oranje fans who will be backing Herve Renard’s Moroccans in Russia.
“I hope the Netherlands are solidly behind us – just as I, for all these years, have supported the Dutch national team at the World Cup when Morocco didn’t participate,” said Feyenoord midfielder El Ahmadi.
“I think that if we find each other, we can all be proud.
“I grew up in the Netherlands, but I must honestly say that when I hear the national anthem of Morocco I feel a connection with the country.”
While the Netherlands are missing their first World Cup since 2002, Morocco is making their first appearance for 20 years.