Fortbet Morocco, the only remaining torch of African football - The Anchorman
July 17, 2024

The Anchorman

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Morocco, the only remaining torch of African football

 

Morocco will take aim at heavyweights Spain when the teams meet for a 2022 World Cup round of 16 clash at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan on Tuesday 6 December, kick-off at 17h00 CAT.

The North Africans were one of the revelations of the first round, topping Group F with an unbeaten record ahead of Croatia, Belgium and Canada. The Atlas Lions shipped just one goal in the process, and their combination of defensive solidity and attacking verve, from the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi and Youssef En-Nesyri, has coach Walid Regragui dreaming of the latter stages of the tournament.

“We set ourselves an objective… we said we wanted to give everything we’ve got and get out of the group stages. We can tick that box now,” Regragui said.

“So why not aim for the sky? We needed to change and we needed to change our mentality. We’re not going to stop here. We’re going to respect every opponent. But we are going to be very difficult opponents. So why not dream about lifting that trophy?”

Spain, meanwhile, started Group E like a house on fire, thrashing Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening match to leap up the favourites ranking, but subsequent performances against Germany (1-1 draw) and Japan (1-2 loss) means they only came home in second place in the group.

Conspiracy theorists have speculated that Spain deliberately avoided top spot to ensure they are on a different side of the draw to Brazil, but coach Luis Enrique insists he wanted to win the group and was angered by the loss to the Samurai Blue.

“I have nothing to celebrate, I’m not at all happy. I wanted to be first in the group and win this match,” explained Enrique. “I warned the players at half time that Japan would come out on top but we went into collapse mode. I repeat: I have nothing to celebrate.”

In head-to-head stats, Morocco and Spain have met in three previous matches, with the European team boasting an unbeaten record (two wins, one draw.) The teams’ last meeting was in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup when they played to a 2-2 draw in Kaliningrad.

The winner of this match will advance to the quarterfinals and face either Portugal or Switzerland, who meet at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Tuesday’s night kick-off.