Friday, December 02, 2022

Morocco repeating history

In 1986 Morocco were the first African team that were group winners in a World Cup. They won the group ahead of three European nations (England, Poland and Portugal). Although Morocco were eliminated by a rather disgusting and foul West German side in the last-16, they were pioneers of the era when African teams were to be reckoned with (Cameroun and Algeria had already warned about this in 1982). 

That is why it is so great that Morocco has again won a World Cup group, and again ahead of two European powerhouses, Croatia and Belgium; the latter ranked number 2 in the world, and surely never expected to be out to Morocco! 

All Morocco needed in their last match was to defeat the already-eliminated Canadians to win the group, and 25 minutes into the match were already ahead 2-0 on goals by the great Hakim Ziyech and Sevilla's Youssef En-Nesyri. Although they did suffer after an own-goal by  Nayef Aguerd, the score held (with a bit of luck), and as Croatia tied the hapless Belgians (surely the end of the golden generation), Morocco were group winners and a delight for Africa and the world!

Morocco will face Spain in what will be a clash to look forward to. Not only neighboring countries with close relations, but also many Moroccan players who play in Spain and know Spain well, such as PSG's Achraf Hakimi (born in Madrid and came through Real Madrid's youth academy), Sevilla's goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, or Osasuna's Abde Ezzalzouli (who has come through Barcelona's youth). 

Spain are surely favourites, but Morocco has shown that they are a strong and competitive side that does well against European sides that underestimate them. Spain would be wrong to underestimate a team that seems to be riding on a wave!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am afraid!!! Let’s see… but…. España y olé!!!