21 May 2019

Morocco - Saidi, Wydad's Midfield Maestro

Fans of Wydad Athletic Club call him "maestro". Salahdine Saidi is a defensive midfielder, with an eye for goals blessed with sound technique and impressive vision. He has been the decisive factor in many games in the last four years largely thanks to his goals and precision in his work.

His defensive and transitional to attack has been crucial to the philosophy of former Wydad coach Hussein Ammouta, and the current trainer Faouzi Benzarti.

Whether partnering with Brahim Nekache or Yahya Jabrane, Saidi gives his opponents so much to worry about. Not the classic Number 6 in football terms, he is however able to gain possession with tackles, fuels the fast transition and link between the defense and the attack.

"I can't imagine a Wydad midfield without Saidi. With the three basic defensive midfielders, Benzarti has always got two choices, either Saidi and Nakach or Saidi and Jabrane. This shows how important he is to Benzarti's philosophy," Moroccan journalist Chafik Zaaraoui told CAFOnline.com.

Born in Marrakech, he naturally chose to join Kawkab Football Academy in Marrakech, playing in all categories before signing his professional contract. He played his first game in the Moroccan top flight (Botola) for the 2004/2005 season, against FAR Rabat, a team he would join in 2011 following the relegation of his club, Kawkab Marrakech to the Moroccan second-tier.

He started as a central defender. With time, he became one of the Botola's best central defenders, and was subsequently called up to the national team during the time of former coach Eric Gerets.

In 2014, following his outstanding performance with FAR Rabat, Saidi joined Wydad, where has been playing as defensive midfielder with attacking roles. He has gained the supporters' love and respect because of his hard work, discipline and leadership qualities.

"Saidi is the type of the player that Wydad has needed for a long time. He plays an important role in linking the defence line with the attack. Together with Nekache, they count amongst the best ever players to have worn the Wydad shirt," Wydad supporter Abdellah Bouyanna said.

The 32-year-old maestro was a key cog in Ammouta's squad that won the CAF Champions league title, and later won the CAF Super Cup under Benzarti.

"His role in the team is very important as he is one of the oldest and most experienced players in the Wydad set up. Personally I can never forget his decisive goals, mainly the one against Mamelodi Sundowns in the 2017 CAF Champions League competition," added Bouyanna.

Saidi who has been called up by Morocco's coach Hervey Renard on several occasions, has won two Botola titles with Wydad (2015 and 2017), in addition to the CAF Champions league in 2017 and the CAF Super Cup in 2018.

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