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 Difaâ El Jadida.
Full name: Difaâ Hassani d’El-Jadida (DHJ)
Stadium: Stade El Abdi (15,000)
Manager: Abderrahim Talib
Position last season: 4th
Difaâ El Jadida are in many ways an example of how sustainable management and the focus on young players pay off in the long run. They have been consistently in the top half of the table for years now and topped it off with a 2nd place in 16/17 which resulted in a CAF Champions League spot.
The Knights are actually still in with a chance of progressing from the group-stage, despite facing TP Mazembe, ES Sétif and MC Alger, all big African clubs. This proved to have an effect on their league performances towards the end of last season, where they finished 5th and with no continental spot for next year.
And even with the, at times, very impressive performances in Champions League, fans are not happy, neither with the board or manager. They barely had any support in the stands when playing MC Alger in a crucial game a couple of weeks ago and Talib has publicly stated that he’s disappointed with the support from the locals.
So how will this effect the upcoming season for DHJ? If they get a result against TP Mazembe and end up going through to the quarter-finals, there would be no doubt where the priorities lie. Their squad does not have the depth required to compete in several competitions and with the unrest surrounding the club, it could very well become an uphill battle this time.
They will have to get used to life without Hamid Ahadad as soon as possible. The 23-year-old banged in goals for them in the CAFCL and was our “best player in the league” last season, before making the move to Egypt and Zamalek. Jadida responded with bringing in the self proclaimed “goal-king”, Anthony Okpotu, who was topscorer in the Nigerian Premier League. He disappointed heavily in his first games, although against great opposition in Champions League, and will have to adapt. Other players brought in are goalkeeper Mohamed El Yousfi (MAT) and former FAR Rabat midfielder, Mehdi Karnass, who has gone straight into the team.
DHJ are still one of the most entertaining side in the league and will most likely stay that way this time around. Simon Msuva, Ayoub Nanah, Bilal El Megri and Adnane El Ouardy are all great players and will now be accompanied by Okpotu as well. They’ve also managed to keep full-backs, Fabrice Ngah and Saad Lagrou, who were both wanted by other clubs. The biggest weakness in this team is probably the midfield. Adil El Hassnaoui, Mohamed Bamaamar, Tarik Asstati, Houssine Khoukhouche and the mentioned Karnass are not good enough for a club to really challenge for the title in our opinion. When you also take the problems between manager and supporters into account, we think the Doukkalis will finish right outside of the top.