Morocco look to build on World Cup exploits as they host Brazil

It’s been months after Morocco surprised the entire world with their fairytale run in Qatar.

The Atlas Lions led by Walid Regragui became the first African and Arab country to reach the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup.

The tone was already set in the group stages of the Mundial when they became the first African nation to top a group since Nigeria in 1998. An achievement which can’t be overlooked because they finished ahead of powerhouses Belgium, previous runners-up Croatia and Canada.

The journey only got tougher in the knockout stages as they needed penalties to eliminate a Spain side who had blown hot and cold in Qatar.

The quarterfinal stage was a landmark but Regragui’s men wanted more and squeezed out a narrow victory to end Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal’s World Cup dream.

Morocco strengthen bid for 2025 AFCON by housing six countries for the qualifiers

Every story has an end and unfortunately for the rest of Africa, Morocco’s final destination was the semi-finals and eventually finished fourth.

However, every ending signifies a new beginning and that will be the message of Regragui when Brazil come to town on Saturday.

Despite their poor showing at the World Cup, Brazil remain a giant in the sport and victory against them will send a message to the rest of the world.

Unlike Morocco who have the core of their World Cup squad together, Brazil are at their most volatile stage. A number of key players like Neymar, Marquinhos, Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison are expected to miss the game due to injury.

Their pillar Tite, who coached the national team for six years, stepped down. When Brazil walk down the tunnel of the Ibun Batouta Stadium, it’ll be the first time since June 2016 that they will be without Tite.

Brazil were eliminated in the last eight stage at the World Cup.

Current Brazil U-20 coach Ramon Menezes is expected to lead the team in the interim and has appointed Casemiro as captain for the friendly.

Saturday evening’s game will be more than a friendly.

For Morocco, it’s their chance to show their fans and the rest of the World that even beyond the World Cup, they still belong with the elites.

For Brazil, it’s the of a rebuild as the Seleção once again dig into their talent factory to re-introduce a new set of global stars.

For the neutral, they can expect goals because the Ibun Batouta Stadium hasn’t seen a goalless draw in more than five years.

By Owuraku Ampofo – Tangier, Morocco


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here