The global showpiece is set to take place in the Gulf region for the first time in history and it is already a historical event for the African continent as all five nations will be led by local coaches. Walid Regragui replaced Vahid Halilhodžić in August and the former Atlas Lions defender is ranked as one of the most promising tacticians in Africa due to his exploits in the dugout over the last decade. After hanging up his boots in 2011, a year later, he started his coaching career as the assistant coach to the national team under Rachid Taoussi. His career has come full circle entering Mundial with two Botola Pro titles with FUS Rabat and Wydad Athletic Club respectively, the Qatar Stars League with Al Duhail and the CAF Champions League to his name, before landing in the hot seat.
"He is a great coach and son of the country," Boutouil said glowingly about the 47-year-old.
“He has created the spirit of success and the desire to defend the country. I have all the respect and a good relationship with the coach and players heading to the World Cup." Boutouil, who spent last season on loan at Raja Athletic Club before his arrival from Sporting Club Chabab Mohammédia last month, is regarded as one of the finest defenders of his nation and hasn’t made the World Cup squad due to his lack of game time heading into the competition.
However, he has already won a trophy for his nation, with the 2020 CHAN scripted on his CV - a title that is likely to go down as the turning point for the projected sustained success of the North Africans. Morocco have invested billions of dollars into development and infrastructure over the last few years.
"I cannot describe the feeling of winning CHAN in Cameroon because it was the beginning of my highest footballing achievements," he explained.
"Indeed, Morocco is in a very big development phase for football, not only in relation to the pitches, but also the organisation and even the domestic clubs have developed a lot in recent times. The current national team is not the Moroccan team of yesterday. Almost all the players are affiliated to big teams in Europe, and this is something we are proud of as a country." Stuart McGregor putting Boutouil to the test during a training sessionAdded to the growing contingent of players in Europe, Wydad and RS Berkane, being the champions of the two CAF inter-club competitions, the results of the investment are there for all to see.
Morocco are in Group F alongside Belgium, ranked number two in the World, 2026 World Cup hosts Canada and 2018 finalists Croatia - which many have deemed the Group Of Death - but with the ambitions to showcase their rapid strides, Boutouil feels they can impress and go further than their best finish of the last-16 which was achieved back in 1986.
"I have full confidence in this group. The players will represent Morocco to the best of their abilities and I have faith they will reach the farthest point. Why not win the World Cup, and in my opinion, the strongest group is where Morocco finds itself."
The 24-year-old stated Angers winger Sofiane Boufal is the player to look out for as the one who 'makes the difference' in a squad holding elite talents such as Hakim Ziyech, Sofyan Amrabat, Achraf Hakimi, Youssef En-Nesyri and current LaLiga Zamora Trophy holder Yassine Bounou.
Amidst the exciting promising future of Moroccan football, he believes he has the capabilities to contribute to this chapter after joining the Masandawana family - who holds major ambitions of their own for the 2022/23 season.
"I do believe I will have a lot of opportunities to play for Morocco in the future because I joined a great team in Africa which is competing for all the titles, and has won many trophies. I hope to bring Sundowns more success and be crowned with a few titles." As the team head into a break during the FIFA tournament, Abdelmounaim Boutouil will certainly be glued to his screen and holding his flag high to support his country and teammates to break boundaries and become the first African team to win the FIFA World Cup.