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Morocco, Croatia play to barren draw as wait for an African win continues

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Morocco vs Croatia at the FIFA World Cup. PHOTO/FIFA
  • Both teams had chances to score
  • No African team has won a game so far
  • Croatia reached the final of the 2018 edition

At the end of 90 minutes, nothing could separate Croatia and Morocco in their opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup as the wait for a first African win at the tournament continued. Both teams had chances on either end, but none could breach goal as they settled for a goalless draw.

Noussair Mazraoui had the best chance for Morocco while Bikola Vlasic had the best for the Croatians, but both attracted equally brilliant saves from either shot stopper.

With Senegal having lost their opening match to the Netherlands and Tunisia having played to a barren draw with Denmark, onus was on Morocco to battle for Africa’s first win.

It was a see saw start to the game and Croatia had the first chance of the game with Ivan Perisic trying his luck with a rasping shot from range but it flew over.

Morocco kept their composure and had few half chances. The returning Hakim Ziyech who was making his first appearance in a competitive match for the national team in over a year was a constant runner at the Croatian backline, but he couldn’t get an incisive ball into the net.

Self imposed exile for Ziyech

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Morocco players line up before the match against Croatia. PHOTO/FIFA

ZIyech had gone on a self-imposed exile due to differences with the former national team coach but upon the appointment of Walid Regragui, he returned to the fold.

A fiery end to the opening half almost produced the opening goal for Croatia. Borna Sosa was denied by a brilliant point blank save by Bonou when he extended a leg to direct a cross from the left towards goal.

In the second minute of added time, Luka Modric also came close when he rifled the ball on the half volley from the edge of the area but it flew inches wide.

The Croatians began the second half with the same vigour and seven minutes into the restart, Nordin Amrabat had to clear off the line after Dejan Lovren swung a shot at goal after keeper Bonou had punched a corner to his path.

On the other end, Morocco came closest when Mazraoui dived in to head from close range but the Croatian keeper made a brilliant point blank save. The left back however paid the price for his attempt at scoring as he landed awkwardly and had to be substituted injured.

Morocco doing better in attack

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Action between Morocco and Croatia. PHOTO/FIFA

Morocco were suddenly doing better in attack and they forced the keeper to another great save in the 64th minute. A training ground freekick saw Ziyech roll the ball sideways for Achraf Hakimi. The PSG forward took on a ferocious shot from almost 35 yards out but the keeper punched away.

The Atlas Lions kept the pressure, seeking a way into the match but they couldn’t crack the Croat backline. They finished stronger with Croatia, finalists from Russia 2018, only looking to preserve the single point.

Morocco will next face Belgium on Sunday while Croatia play Canada and a simple win for either side could place them comfortably on the path to a last 16 berth.

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