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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 16:30 GMT
El-Karkouri retires from Morocco
By Ibrahim Sannie
BBC Sport, Ghana

Talal El-Karkouri
El-Karkouri moved to Qatar after a spell in England with Charlton
Morocco defender Talal El-Karkouri has announced his retirement from international football.

The 31-year-old has quit the Atlas Lions after the north Africans failed to progress to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.

El-Karkouri, who plays in Qatar for club side Qatar Sports Club, says he wants to concentrate on club football.

"Each beginning has an end, I've thought about this for many nights and I want to focus on my club," he said.

"I've had an amazing time representing my country, and after the Nations Cup here in Ghana, I feel it is the right time to step aside," El-Karkouri told BBC Sport after Morocco's 2-0 defeat to Ghana on Monday.

Morocco were tipped as one of the favourites to lift the 2008 African title after drawing 2-2 with France and brushing aside Senegal 3-0 in pre-tournament friendlies.

But despite their early exit, El Karkouri says the Atlas Lions have a bright future.

"We have to forget about this tournament and think about the future because with all these fantastic young players we can achieve great things.

"This team can play together for the next eight to ten years and I know with this team we can qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa."

El-Karkouri was part of the team that finished runners up in the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations.

The defender started his club career with Raja Casablanca before moving to France in 2000 to join Paris St. Germain.

He went on loan to Aris in Greece and Sunderland in England because of lack of first team opportunities before sealing a move to Charlton in 2004.

El-Karkouri moved to Qatar after leaving Charlton at the end of last season.

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