Botola, News

Botola 18/19: A talented manager not enough for Khouribga

The Botola is finally upon us again after a long summer break. Maghrib Foot are proud to give you a team-to-team preview ahead of the 62nd season in Morocco and predict how the clubs will fare. Next up is Olympique Khouribga.

Full name: L’Olympique Club de Khouribga (OCK
Founded: 1923
Stadium: Stade du Phosphate (10,000)
Manager: Mohamed Amine Benhachem
Position last season: 12th

Since their fantastic 2nd place finish in 14/15, only three points behind champions Wydad Casablanca, it’s been years of mediocrity at Olympique Khouribga. The last three seasons, they’ve finished on 34, 34 and 35 points, right above the relegation zone.

Azzedine Aït Djoudi was sacked after failing to win in his first four games last season and was replaced by experienced Frenchman, Bernard Simondi, in October. They picked up a little bit of form, but overall you were never impressed. Defensively they looked like a mess, conceding 47 goals, which was only topped by bottom-of-the-table, Racing Casablanca. There would be matches where OCK looked completely out of shape and at times they just fell apart. That was especially highlighted against Wydad, where they 10-2 over the two games.

The club has now brought in talented Mohamed Amine Benhachem, who did a great job with Olympique Safi before resigning this summer. But there’s no doubt that the 43-year-old has a big task on his hands. Like many other sides in Botola, their general assembly was a complete disaster. Members accused president Mustapha Sekadi of leading Khouribga in the wrong direction and letting down the fans.

Benhachem has a demanding style of play and it will be interesting to see how quick he can get results and if the club and supporters will give him enough time, should things not go their way instantly. We feel like the squad has the potential of finishing on the top half of the table, but it could take time for the players to understand and execute their manager’s tactics. Centre-back Kassi Mathias has followed Benhachem from Safi, while former U23 international Reda Hajhouj is back in Morocco following a short spell at USM Alger. Khalid Serroukh from IRT and Zouhair El Ouassli from Raja are also decent signings on this level, who will do a job.

But you don’t get around the fact that they’ve lost ten league goals from last season in Zouhair El Moutaraji, who returned to Wydad after his loan spell. Dangerous winger and former youth player at Lille, Adam Ennaffati, is also gone after moving to FUS Rabat. They’ve also lost goalkeeper Marouane Fakhr and centre-back Mame Thioune to Abha Club in the Saudi 2nd tier. El Moutaraji and Ennaffati will be missed and it’s still hard to see where the goals will come from the upcoming season.

Prediction: 11th

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