AL KHOR — Until the semi-finals, Morocco’s clean sheet record put it on par with the world champions. Morocco in five matches of the 2022 World Cup has so far recorded four clean sheets. The same number when Brazil won in 2002, Germany in 2014 and France in 2018.
Even the goal of Walid Reragui’s team only conceded one goal! Especially when they beat Canada 2-1 on the last day of the group stage (1/12). In fact, it should be practically still without breaking. For Canada’s goal at that time was the result of an own goal by Moroccan defender Nayef Aguerd.
This strong Moroccan-style defense immediately reminded commentators of the famous words of legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Offending wins you the fight, defending wins you the title.
Compared to other semi-finalists, Morocco’s clean sheet record is the most eligible for the world champions. Argentina and Croatia, who will face each other early this morning (14/12), each kept two clean sheets. Then France, which has become Morocco’s adversary (15/12)? There hasn’t been a game where Hugo Lloris’ goal hasn’t been beaten by the opposition.
”I thank all the players who played in an extraordinary way. Very, very difficult to find the right words to describe this moment (becoming the first African team to qualify for the semi-finals of the World Cup, the Reds). We will prepare everything and be ready to welcome what will happen next (in the semi-finals, Rouge),” Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou told News24.
Zero goals four times before the semi-finals is indeed a special achievement and not just a coincidence. They have a reliable back quartet backing Bounou. Namely, Achraf Hakimi-Roman Saiss-Nayef Aguerd-Noussair Mazraoui.
However, these five players haven’t always appeared together in Morocco’s five matches in Qatar. It’s in three games. Draw 0-0 against Croatia (23/11), win 2-1 against Canada (1/12) and win on penalties 3-0 against Spain (7/12).
Yes, there were two other matches where Morocco didn’t appear with the best defensive line and didn’t concede a goal. Namely, when they beat Belgium 2-0 in the absence of Bounou (28/11) and beat Portugal 1-0 in the absence of Aguerd and Mazraoui (10/12). In fact, in this match, Saiss was injured and replaced by Achraf Dari in the 57th minute.
If you look at World Cup champions since the millennium era, not conceding at least four times is one of the requirements for lifting a trophy. Spain and Italy even managed to record five clean sheets when they won the 2010 and 2006 titles.
The statistics of the Moroccan backline personnel are indeed impressive. As reported by WhoScored, Hakimi made the 19 most successful tackles. Followed by Mazraoui with 13 successful tackles in the top ten. In fact, hidden midfielder Sofyan Amrabat who also had 13 successful tackles.
Technical factors play a crucial role. However, the support of many parties is also important to generate enthusiasm. As a dark horse, many who support Morocco can advance to the final or continue to win. The main ones come from neighboring Arab countries and of course from neighboring African countries.
”History was created. Well done, Morocco,” tweeted the president of FECAFOOT (Cameroonian Football Federation), Samuel Eto’o. The former FC Barcelona striker predicted that Cameroon would beat Morocco in the Pan-African World Cup final in Qatar. (io/dra)
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