Africa Cup of Nations: Mbark Boussoufa retires from internationals after Morocco exit

Mbark Boussoufa is a former Ajax and Chelsea youth player

Morocco’s Mbark Boussoufa says it is time for a younger generation to have a chance after announcing his retirement from international football.

The Atlas Lions surprisingly lost on penalties to Benin in the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

It ended a 13-year international career for the midfielder, who scored eight goals in 70 games for his country.

“I had my time. I had a good time I think that’s been enough from me,” the 34-year-old told BBC Sport.

He added: “I have had enough time and I think it is time for the young players that are coming. There are enough good players.”

Boussoufa was born in the Netherlands and was in line for a Dutch national team call-up before opting in 2006 to play for Morocco, where his parents are from.

The midfielder – who spent the past six months at Al Shabab in Saudi Arabia before his contract expired – was playing at his third Cup of Nations, having appearing in 2012 and 2017.

He scored the winner against South Africa that helped Morocco win Group D on 1 July.

Boussoufa also played every minute of Morocco’s World Cup campaign in Russia in 2018, and was captain for the 2-2 draw with Spain as they bowed out of the tournament.

“We have a positive group and we have a lot of young players that you can build on,” he added.

“They are already playing for their club and their nation. So there are a lot of positive things we can look at.”

Morocco will find out on 18 July who they will face in the qualifiers for the 2021 Nations Cup in Cameroon.

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