Morocco look to beat Canada, secure round of 16 after stunning Belgium
Sports Desk: Morocco head into their final Group F game high on confidence after overcoming Belgium on Sunday, a team ranked 20 places ahead of them in the FIFA world rankings.
In a remarkable performance, the Atlas Lions harried an uninspired Belgium team that lacked any fluidity despite a wealth of talent in their squad. Morocco registered more shots on target even though the Red Devils dominated possession and were ultimately more clinical, netting two goals in the second half.
Morocco have yet to concede, with Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi marshalling a well-drilled defensive line that kept Croatia at bay in their opening match.
A draw against Canada, who are already out of the tournament, would guarantee Morocco a place in the Round of 16. They could even progress with a defeat, depending on the result of Belgium’s match with Croatia – which will be held at the same time.
And indeed, Morocco – even in their current form – will know Canada are no pushover. They were unlucky to lose their first game against Belgium after dominating large segments of the match and linked up well in midfield, creating several chances. In the end, it was wayward finishing that cost them, including a penalty miss from Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies.
Davies was able to redeem himself in the next match against Croatia, scoring the tournament’s fastest goal so far, but his team would go on to lose the game 4-1.
This is Canada’s second appearance at the World Cup, and they will be looking to pick up their first-ever point in the competition against Morocco.
The Atlas Lions are more experienced on football’s biggest stage: This is their fifth appearance at the World Cup, and it would be the second time they reach the knockout phase if they progress, having made it to the round of 16 at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Morocco can expect significant support at the Al Thumama stadium on Thursday based on the atmosphere at their first two matches. The two sides have met on three occasions, with Morocco winning two and one ending in a draw. On Thursday, either of those outcomes will suffice for the team from North Africa.
Morocco v Canada in a brief
Who: Morocco vs Canada, Group F
Where: Al Thumama Stadium
When: Thursday, December 1 at 9:00 pm BST
FIFA ranking: Morocco (22), Canada (41)