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 Mouloudia Oujda.
Full name: Mouloudia Club d’Oujda (MCO)
Stadium: Stade d’Honneur (35,000)
Manager: Abdelaziz Kerkach
Position last season: 1st in Elite 2 (Promotion)
In 2015, Mouloudia Oujda were promoted to the Botola alongside Ittihad Tanger. But where IRT finished 3rd and later went on to become champions this year for the first time ever, Mouloudia went right down again. In 16/17 they lost out on promotion after drawing their last two games, but in a thriller race, MCO clinched the Elite 2 last season and will get another opportunity of trying to find their feet in Morocco’s top flight. A traditional club with great fans that belong in the top.
It’s obvious that Mouloudia Oujda are insisting on staying up this time around and they will do whatever it takes. They have brought in no less than 18 new players, several of very good quality for a newly promoted side. Soufiane Hariss (RAC) and Youssef Fennich (CRA) are both proven on this level and will raise the quality on the training ground, while Koffi Boua impressed for Maghreb Fès last season. In addition they’ve acquired three foreign players who will be interesting to see, in Jean-Joseph Njock (Coton Sport) from Cameroon, Orji Okagbue (KF Tirana) from Nigeria and Salim Ndao (Diambars) from Senegal.
There’s no doubt that MCO are strengthened ability wise, but can they make all of these players come together and fight together for survival. It’s never easy when changing a whole squad, especially coming from the division below. Another big challenge will be the fact that their stadium, Stade d’Honneur, is currently undergoing renovation for it to be accepted in Botola. It was first decided that they’d have to play at the home ground of RS Berkane, an hour away, but it looks like they will play at the Stade Municipal in Oujda. However, playing home games at a different stadium is never a good thing and it’s going to be important for them to get used to it as soon as possible.
But with energy coming from a successful season in Elite 2, a manager with a high standing in the club and several quality players, it’s going to be an interesting watch. They had a good pre-season, including a training-camp in Turkey, showing their ambitions. We can definitely see MC Oujda becoming one of the big surprises if they make their signings tick.