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PREVIEW: Morocco on course for glorious finale to Africa’s best World Cup run

PREVIEW: Morocco on course for glorious finale to Africa’s best World Cup run
December 17
08:00 2022

Morocco has gone and stunned the entire world. For the Atlas Lions, Qatar 2022 World Cup is a script that has played out beyond their wildest imaginations.

A country that only progressed beyond the group stages of the Mundial just once — 36 years ago — became the first African nation to book a semi-final place. A team with just two wins in its previous 16 World Cup games soared to the pinnacle of global football, defeating European powerhouses — Belgium, Spain and Portugal — in tow.

But their inspiring run halted after a 2-0 defeat to France on Wednesday, setting up a third-place encounter with the Croatians, who were defeated by Argentina in the second semi-final game.

The Moroccans are looking to earn Africa’s first-ever podium finish, but a technically astute Luka Modric-inspired Croatia stands in their way.



When the two teams met in their first game in Group F a few weeks ago. The match was a cagey affair with chances limited to wayward off-target shots. They both winded up topping the group ahead of Belgium.

Walid Regragui has been extensively praised for the transformative job he has done with the Lions since he took over from Vahid Halilhodzic barely three months ago.


His effort to recall Hakim Ziyech from forced international retirement and harmonised the team has been the major turning point for Morocco. Ziyech has been a solid performer in Qatar. He cuts another figure from his horrendous form at Chelsea FC, adding technicality and hunger to the team’s midfield.

Azzedine Ounahi has been the World Cup revelation with his slalom runs and darting passes alongside the power of Sufyan Amrabat in the middle of the park.

Morroco’s strength lies in its well-organised defence which failed to concede a goal from an opposition player en route to the semi-final.

However, injuries have rocked the department gravely with the experience of Romain Saiss, Neyf Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui doubtful for the game.


Croatia will be lurking to capitalise on their absence with the firepower of Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic and Mario Pasalic, backed by the superior midfield triumvirate of Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic.

The trio has been phenomenal through the tournament, trampling every other team in that part of the pitch — even in their 3-0 loss to Argentina.

Will Morocco cap off their historic World Cup run with a bronze finish — or Croatia’s golden generation would cement its legacy with a third place to compliment the silver of Russia 2018?

Pertinent questions that only time can answer.



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