Thursday, February 9, 2023

Morocco tries to advance in Qatar, Canada aims for win

DOHA ( Associated Press) – Morocco is seeking to qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

The North African team will progress with a win or a draw, but a defeat will not eliminate their options: it will depend on the outcome of the clash between Belgium and Croatia.

The Atlas Lions began their campaign in Qatar with a goalless draw and a 2–0 victory over Belgium with goals from Romain Saiss and Zakaria Abukhlal.

“We are a very difficult team to beat,” said their coach, Walid Regargui, who replaced Vahid Halilhojic in August. “We have faced two of the best teams in the world. We need to keep it going.”

If they managed to advance, Morocco would face either Spain, Germany, Japan or Costa Rica in the next round. In 1986, the North Africans secured their ticket after goalless draws against Poland and England and a 3–1 win against Portugal, but lost to West Germany in a tie.

Morocco and Canada have met only once before, a clash that saw the Atlas Lions win 4–0 in a friendly in 2016, thanks to a brace from Hakim Ziyech.

Chelsea midfielder Ziyech was left out of the squad under Halihojic, but returned to the squad in September, along with Regaragui, after a 15-month absence.

Canada is winless in its five World Cup appearances, and in its other appearance in 1986, it failed to score. Although they beat Belgium in their opening encounter, they went down 1–0 in the end. In the second, they took the lead against Croatia but lost 4–1.

Alphonso Davies scores Canada’s first goal at the World Cup. His goal after 68 seconds was also the fastest goal of the tournament.

“The stakes are high for us,” said Canadian coach John Herdman. “We have come to create history. In the first match, he said that he wanted to show his bravery and have fun. And they got it. In the second, they said they wanted to score, and they would have given us the three points if the goal had been enough to win the game, but they didn’t. In this last game it’s all about the result and the win for Canada and giving this country confidence that we are on the right track for 2026.

Canada will co-host the upcoming World Cup with the United States and Mexico.

Nation World News Desk
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