Rabat - In their second Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2019 qualifier, Morocco and Comoros drew 2-2.
Rabat – In their second Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2019 qualifier, Morocco and Comoros drew 2-2.
Watching Morocco’s Atlas Lions come from behind only to lose composure and allow Comoros to score a goal, it is perhaps legitimate to question the post-World Cup squad.
In many regards, today’s head-to-head between Morocco and the Comoros was a replica of the game they played three days ago in Casablanca, although the game today had a slight twist added by the hot and sunny afternoon in Romoni, Comoros’s capital city.
The match had comparatively little show, class, or technical outbursts from both teams. They played, it seemed, to finish the game and get out of the burning sun. In fact, at the 75th minute, the referee stopped the game for players to freshen up.
Morocco’s Lions were anonymous for most of the first half as they unsuccessfully, perhaps dispiritedly, tried to organize a game that kept eluding them. In 45 minutes of intense battle, the Lions seemed to be taken over.
Comoros’s intention seemed to be to make the point they had been making since Saturday in Casablanca when the referee “gifted” Morocco a late-penalty delivering the game’s only goal: That Morocco’s victory was undeserved.
Perhaps better used to playing in that burning sun, but also more tactically and physically equipped in the first half, Comoros drove the game. They made Morocco’s passing and team organization look utterly out-of-place.
With 52 percent of ball possession, the hosts pushed forward but also wasted the few crucial opportunities that came their way.
Outclassing Morocco on the flanks, Comoros started playing short balls by their wingers. Comoros eventually made its first goal there: A one-to- one between the midfield and the left wing before El Fardou, Comoros’s leading striker, lodged a powerfully-shot negotiated short-range missile into Muni’s goal.
There was nothing the Morocco keeper could do but resort to giving a wide, uncomforting smile to Hamza Mendyl. As the last Moroccan to be outrun in the buildup to the Comoros goal, Mendyl appeared apologetic for failing to interfere.
The second half was more urgent, but Morocco seemed better prepared for the challenge.
As they became comfortable, Herve Renard’s boys started resembling the Moroccan team that Moroccan fans are starting to miss. But there was still an obvious lack of magisterial playmaking on the Moroccan side. Some will say that the creative genius of Hakim Ziyech has been greatly missing in the Moroccan squad.
Morocco scored an equalizer after a trademark Renard-style-inspired team effort. At 54 minutes, Morocco, apparently revived from its burden of disappointing passes, started asserting its dominance in the game.
Morocco’s growing assertiveness sparked mishaps and panic in the Comoros defense. Morocco’s second goal came barely 10 minutes after the first. It is a goal that Amrabat will surely remember as one of his easiest with the national team. The Comoros goalkeeper failed to pass the ball to a defender, instead gifting the Moroccan a much-needed goal.
At 2-1 though, as if drained, Morocco’s Lions progressively lost the tempo to a now confident home side. Morocco’s joy was outlived. At minute 90, when the Lions should have given everything, they went on losing duels. So Comoros second goal came as no surprise, sending the home crowd into raptures.
Morocco’s qualifying chances for the Africa Cup of Nations, although still very much alive, have taken a very serious blow. With group leader Cameroon as their next fixture, Morocco’s Lions have for challenge to outplay the lackadaisical level they are showing of late.