Leading Morocco to Russia 2018 ‘my most beautiful moment’ - Benatia

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After a 20-year exile from the quadrennial showpiece, the Juventus defender led the Atlas Lions to next year’s edition

Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia says that leading Morocco to the World Cup is ‘the most beautiful moment’ of his career.

The Atlas Lions last featured in the global football showpiece in 1998 when France hosted it.

But a 2-0 victory over close contenders Cote d’Ivoire - with the former Bayern Munich and Roma defender scoring the second goal - handed Herve Renard’s men a ticket to next year’s event in Russia.

“It was the most beautiful moment of my career,” Benatia told Sky Italia.

“I told the players that I’d been lucky enough to win titles with Bayern and Juve and this is what we play football for.

“But after so many years of doing this for our country, this qualification for the World Cup means so much. As captain, I feel it even more, and it was a wonderful moment.

“Every morning I get up and think about it and I’m happy because we didn’t really get to celebrate but in six months there will be an incredible party in Morocco because it’s a country that lives for football.

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“Unfortunately we’ve had to watch the World Cup on TV for 20 years but now we’re going and it really is something to be proud of,” he concluded.

After a successful international break with Morocco, Benatia is back at Juventus where he hopes to be included in Max Allegri's plan for Sunday’s Serie A encounter against Sampdoria.

The former Bayern Munich defender has seen an injury, sustained against Sporting in a Uefa Champions League game on October 10, restrict him to just three Italian top-flight appearances this term, and had not been involved in the last four matches for the Old Lady prior to his national engagement.

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