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 RS Berkane.
Full name: Renaissance Sportive de Berkane (RSB)
Stadium: Stade Municipal de Berkane (15,000)
Manager: Mounir Jaouani
Position last season: 9th
After a great 15/16 season, RS Berkane were able to compete in the CAF Confederations Cup and did historically well. They are currently still in the tournament and on course to progress to the quarter-finals. But while excelling continentally, Mounir Jaouani’s men did certainly not impress in the league last year.
Ayoub El Kaabi scored some goals here and there, but they looked uninspired and almost tired in a lot of games. The combination of playing in a CAF tournament and the league at the same time was a new experiment and it’s not really a surprise that they ultimately finished mid-table.
But how will they do in the upcoming season, when still being in the Confederations Cup and obviously prioritizing success in Africa? Because when looking at the squad, it’s hard to see how they’ll be able to perform in three different competitions. El Kaabi is gone, after leaving for millions to China. Centre-back Enes Sipovic has left to Saudi Arabia and Youssef Ettourabi was signed by FUS Rabat. Lahcen Akhmis tragically died in a car accident this summer and will also leave a black mark. The goals of El Kaabi will especially be missed and a new centre-back partnership will need time to grow.
However, their performances in the Confederations Cup have been impressive and showed a RSB that have a first-eleven who can match most clubs in the league. Mohammed VI Academy graduate, Hamza Regragui looks like a very talented centre-back and will be partnered by Burkinabé international, Issoufou Dayo. They have experience in the full-back positions with Nemsaoui and Aziz, while Larbi Naji, Bakr El Hilali and new signing Sami Ouidar give them muscles and strength in midfield.
Up top they still have Kodjo Laba, who is a nightmare for defenders on his day. And recently they made what’s probably the most prolific signing in Botola this summer, with Alain Traoré coming from Al Markhiya. The Burkinabé striker will give them unique experience and leadership, which was already showed in his debut against Al Hilal in Sudan. Chelito Omar has also been signed, from CAF Confed Cup opponents, UD Songo in Mozambique. The winger will give them a different attacking option which is very much needed.
But do they have the squad depth needed, when playing in several competitions? Hamdi Laachir, Youssef Essaiydy, Houssam Amaanan and Salman Ould El Haj are not good enough for The Oranges to fight for a top-spot and the defense is still very thin. What happens when they have two games a week and players get suspended and injured? We’re predicting somewhat of a similar season to the prior one for RS Berkane.