That Vahid Halilhodzic is staying on as Morocco coach is a miracle. The country is clamouring against the coach who has revived the Atlas Lions' fortunes over the past three years and qualified them for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, their second in a row.
Halilhodzic has one of the best squads in recent years in terms of the level of the players and the European leagues in which they play. Bonou, En-Nesiry, El Haddadi (Sevilla), Achraf (PSG), Amrabat (Fiorentina), Barkok (Eintrach), Louza (Watford) and Abde (Barça). Others such as Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea) have also been involved with Morocco, but their relations with Halilhodzic have broken down to such an extent that they have put the African team in a tinderbox five months before the start of the World Cup.
Faouzi Lekjaa, has been president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) since 2014 and a member of the FIFA Council. Halilhodzic's future is in his hands, as the relationship with the squad is broken and the fans have also passed judgement. He has even taken Ziyech's side and stated that the player has suffered the injustices of his coach.
After the meeting of the finance committee, Lekjaa assured on official FRMF television that "the FRMF will not pay any arrears in case of termination of the contract linking him to the Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic" and added that "it will not cost any dirham to the state budget".
Rumours have been rife and speculation about the amount of his contract is what may be delaying the sacking. Halilhodzic is reportedly paid 78,300 euros per month, making him the highest paid CAF coach and his coaching staff. The figure paid by the FRMF is 300,000 euros per month for all components. Behind Carlos Queiroz (former Egypt coach) with 74,800 euros, Djamel Belmadi (Algeria) with 57,300 euros and Antonio Conceiçao (Cameroon) with 52,000 euros.
The Bosnian coach does not want to give up the money from a contract worth more than a million euros per season and will be litigating to ensure that the words of the president not to pay him "not a dirham" are not honoured.
Whatever happens, Halilhodzic will leave Morocco as the only coach to have qualified four countries for a World Cup. Côte d'Ivoire (2010), Algeria (2014), Japan (2018) and Morocco (2022), as well as playing for Yugoslavia at the World Cup in Spain 82.