Morocco wants to reach its ceiling 36 years later
The 'Lions of the Atlas' need to at least draw against eliminated Canada to equal their best result in a World Cup
MADRID, 30 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) -
The Moroccan team faces this Thursday (4:00 p.m.) a key duel against Canada to certify its presence in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar, the first for 36 years, with confidence through the roof after defeating (0-2) Belgium, while the North Americans will seek to say goodbye to the tournament with at least their first point in a World Cup.
Morocco reaches the third and final day of Group F with the solid endorsement of having forcefully beaten Belgium on the second date. This amazing victory deepened the wound of the 'Red Devils' and gave wings to an African team that put more grit and heart than its rival. The victory allowed the 'Atlas Lions' to believe even more in their chances of advancing to the round of 16 for the first time since 1986.
And the accounts to celebrate this historic event in the North African country, which is second in the group with four points, are clear. They will be among the top 16 teams tying or beating Canada, as Croatia, leading with four points, and Belgium, third with three, will drop points by playing each other. Morocco would advance to the first matches even if they lose to Canada, although they should expect a Croatia win over Belgium by any result.
The Moroccan team will have to assert the defensive strength shown so far -no goal conceded in Qatar-, thanks to the forcefulness of central defenders Nayef Aguerd and Romain Saïss, with two very deep wingers and coaches Achraf Hakimi and Noussair Mazraoui. This is one of the successes of the team coached by Walid Regragui, which has gone nine games without losing, with only one loss in 90 minutes -without taking into account extensions and penalties- since October 2019.
And it is that to the solidity in the rear, Morocco can add a lot of quality from three quarters of the field forward, with names like Sofiane Boufal or Hakim Ziyech, assistant with a beautiful individual play in the 0-2 against Belgium. Both point to headlines in a Morocco that should not speculate on a hypothetical draw so as not to play with fire, taking into account the loot that is at stake.
"We are not going to play to tie, we are going to give one hundred percent to win. It would be a mistake, Canada is one of the best teams in intensity and they will want at least one point. We will have to be smart," Regragui said in the preview, which suggests that he will repeat 'eleven', giving continuity to the Amrabat-Ounahi-Amallah triad in the midfield to try to dominate that area of the field.
Meanwhile, Canada will say goodbye to Qatar with the aim of scoring for the first time in a World Cup. After his first participation in 1986 without a win or draw, John Herdman's men have it in their hands to make history in Canadian football. They were already able to add their first points with a more than serious game against Belgium in their debut, when they were not able to take advantage of the chances of the first half, even with a missed penalty, to end up falling (1-0).
On the second date, the Canadians started again on the right foot and a very attractive and courageous model for the spectator, and Alphonso Davies was able to celebrate the first World Cup goal for the North American team. But he couldn't stop the storm that Croatia (4-1) had prepared, which they thrashed against an inexperienced 'Maple Leaf'.
However, the story is not very rosy for Canada, which has never beaten Morocco in the three friendlies leading up to Qatar. The first, in 1984, ended with a 3-2 victory for the Africans; ten years later they tied (1-1); and in the most recent precedent, in 2016, 'Los Leones del Atlas' thrashed the Canadians (4-0).
CANADA: St. Claire; Johnston, Steven Victoria, Miller, Adekugbe; Buchanan, Kone, Eustace, Hoilett; Davies and David.
MARRUECOS: Bono; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saïss, Mazraoui; Amrabat, Ounahi, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri and Boufal.
--REFEREE: Raphael Claus (BRA).
--ESTADIUM: Al Thumama Stadium.
--TIME: 4:00 p.m./Gol Mundial and Movistar.