transformed, Sofiane Boufal enchants Morocco
The savior of Morocco against Ghana, during the first match of the Atlas Lions at the African Cup of Nations, Sofiane Boufal, is again expected to bring his selection against the Comoros on Friday in Yaoundé. At 28, the Angers SCO player, passed through Lille, Southampton and Celta Vigo, has refined his game and finally scores goals to the delight of his Moroccan supporters.
Shaken by Vahid Halilhodzic, Morocco’s scorer at the African Cup of Nations, Sofiane Boufal has refined his game and finally scores goals while before, he had “nothing” in the selection. Continuation of the metamorphosis against the Comoros, Friday January 14, in Yaoundé.
“You are 28 years old, you haven’t scored a lot, in the national team what have you done?” launched “coach Vahid” to Sofiane Boufal during the preparation of the CAN, says the Bosnian.
“I was very severe in the observation”, admits the former striker of FC Nantes, “but I had the statistics in front of me. And I said to him: ‘What can we change?’ “
But his coach “noticed an almost radical change. From the first training on December 27, he pushed a lot.”
And work pays off: Angevin freed Morocco against Ghana (1-0) in the first match, with a dry strike.
His trainer in Angers, Gerald Baticle, former scorer like Halihodzic, welcomes this “goal in one touch, because on the action it is placed,” he told AFP. “A center-forward goal. Not necessarily a Sofiane goal but a goal that matters a lot.”
“Because Sofiane, he likes to score goals where he has dribbled players, goals that others can not score,” adds the former center forward Auxerre.
“How much did you score?”
Sofiane Boufal “is a talented player”, but Halihodzic assures that he needed “quite strong discussions” with him. “A modern striker lives from statistics, how much you have scored, how much you have scored. Otherwise you are not a good striker.”
Holder against Ghana, the player trained at the SCO took advantage of the absences of the three holders, Youssouf En Nesyri, Rayan Mmaee and Ayoub El Kaabi, injured or positive for Covid, to signal himself.
“When I arrived at the club (this summer, Editor’s note), Boufal was no longer even selected,” recalls Gerald Baticle.
Returning to the SCO in 2020 after stints in Lille, Southampton and Celta Vigo, the Moroccan “worked a lot this summer to regain his athletic condition. Then he regained his place with us, and after he found his bearings in the game , good automatisms, good attitudes “, adds his trainer.
Above all, Boufal “made a lot of efforts to find the right defensive attitudes”, he underlines.
An “invested” player
“It allowed him to regain his place in the national team, but often as a replacement. He continued to work with us and certainly with them,” continues the Angevin coach.
“If you are not there for the recovery, you cannot play in a high level team”, confirms Halilhodzic, “he fights, he is united, he comes back”.
Sofiane Boufal also erased the dross from his game. “He’s a boy who makes the difference with his dribbling, but if you dribble me 40-50 meters from goals, that doesn’t interest me,” Vahid explains to him. “Your talent for dribbling, you have to show it within 16 meters”.
And then “his game without the ball was non-existent,” adds the Morocco coach.
Sofiane Boufal is progressing in the tactical discipline. “In club, he plays a little free, in the national team, it is impossible,” warns Halilhodzic.
“Today, we rely on him a lot, I’m happy for him,” Vahid concludes. “In addition, he is a very nice boy, it is true that he has a bit of character, but it’s good for the team.”
Seeing him score against Ghana, Gérald Baticle found him “full of energy, full of enthusiasm, I feel him invested, determined”.
And too bad if he misses the SCO, like his teammate Azz-Eddine Ounahi, or Cameroonians Stéphane Bahoken and Enzo Ebosse.
Even if it means depriving himself of his African internationals, Gérald Baticle “prefers to see them come back in full possession of their means and in full confidence. And if possible with the trophy. They have gained value, confidence and they come back full of energy and enthusiasm to give to their partners “. Metamorphosed.