Botola, News

Botola 18/19: Weakened HUSA bound for a tough season

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 Hassania Agadir.

Full name: Hassania Union Sport Agadir (HUSA)
Founded: 1946
Stadium: Stade Adrar (45,500)
Manager: Miguel Ángel Gamondi
Position last season: 3rd

Since their two consecutive league titles in ’02 and ’03, Hassania Agadir have usually finished around mid-table. But with Miguel Ángel Gamondi in charge last season, they finally secured a place in a CAF competition again after a 3rd place finish in the league. It’s been more than 10 years since they competed in the CAF Confederations Cup and the city of Agadir deserve to taste success in Africa again.

Their Argentinian manager really tightened up the team defensively, making them a rock solid unit, which is most of the reason for their impressive season. HUSA only conceded 22 goals, the least in the league, compared to 40 in 16/17. Abderrahmane El Houassli, who was awarded the best goalkeeper in Botola, did great between the sticks, and guys like Yassine Rami, Soufiane Bouftini and Amine Saddiki looked decent at the back.

But one of their most important players last season, was certainly Yahya Jabrane. The defensive midfielder worked as a shield in front of the defense and was a crucial part of the successful campaign. Unfortunately for the club, he is now gone, after signing for Dibba Fujairah in UAE on a free transfer. That will be a big miss, as it doesn’t seem like they’ve managed to replace him either.

What they could do is use Jalal Daoudi in that position. The 30-year-old was one of the best players in the league last season, after being converted from a centre-back to more of a box-to-box midfielder, scoring an impressive 10 goals. He is definitely able to handle a defensive role in the middle of the park and could do well.

But they’re also missing players offensively. Badie Aouk eventually signed with Wydad Casablanca after a breakout-season last year and will be tough to replace. Faouzi Abdelghani, Youssef El Gnaoui and Cristiano Sergipano are also gone, although not anywhere near the caliber of Aouk.

However, HUSA have also made some signings themselves this summer. Abdelhakim Bassine (RCOZ) and Ayoub El Mallouki (CRA) are very solid purchases who both did well in Botola last season. In addition, they’ve brought in the first two Palestinians in the Moroccan top-flight, with Ahmad Maher Wridat (Al-Dhahiriya) and Tamer Seyam (Jerusalem Hilal) coming in, eager to make an impact. There’s also big expectations for Miroslav Markovic, a Serbian forward who played in the Russian Premier League.

Despite a great first season under Gamondi, we find it hard to see how HUSA have come out strengthened this summer, which you would expect when playing continental football next year. The fact that both Jabrane and Aouk are gone, combined with an increased amount of games, we think they will have more of a struggle this time around.

Prediction: 6th

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