Mission accomplished: With a deserved 2-0 win against Cameroon tonight, Morocco’s Atlas Lions have, at least mathematically, joined the circle of qualified squads for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Rabat – Morocco’s key forward Hakim Ziyech scored two goals for the Atlas Lions during the second half of the match. This is the first time that the Moroccan team has beaten Cameroon in an official match.
Renard and his boys can finally breathe a fresh sigh of relief, especially following the heavy criticism the team received after two successive disappointing displays against the Comoros.
Morocco’s key forward Hakim Ziyech has scored two goals for the Atlas Lions during the second half of the match. This is the first time that the Moroccan team has beaten Cameroon in an official match.
Prior to the Morocco vs. Cameroon game, there was apprehension and doubt. But there was also fear and perhaps panic among Atlas Lions’ fans.
True, Cameroon’s lads are no longer the indomitable lions they were when they had the likes of Patrick Mboma and Samuel Eto’o. But they are the reigning champions of the continent, having won the latest Africa Cup of Nations (CAN). They were also Group B leaders prior to taking on Morocco’s Lions tonight at the Mohammed V Complex in Casablanca. So the apprehension and doubts were legitimate.
But Hervé Renard had no time for doubt and half-hearted conviction. Speaking with usual vigor of a true believer on the eve of the game, the Moroccan coach said, ‘I am not afraid of Cameroon.’
If anyone still doubted that, tonight was their answer.
Perhaps Renard knew that his team is defiant and utterly different when it has Hakim Ziyech and Mehdi Benatia, two of the many high-caliber names Morocco so unmistakably missed in their latest games.
Harnessing the defensive solidity and the tactical prowess they showcased in Russia, Morocco was present when Cameroon looked frightening in the first 30 minutes of the game. After that, it was almost a one-man show for Morocco, except for some intermittent bursts of energy on the Cameroonian left flanks.
Morocco parked the bus when it was needed, played fearless offensive football when it was required—which is why, despite Cameroonian players bout the penalty (first goal) and the late-minute red card, it is hard to argue that, this time too, Morocco was lucky.
Perhaps there was luck; there always is when one wins. But what we mostly saw tonight is what this Renard-coached team is capable of when there is focus, harmony, and public support: it delivers. Mission accomplished, then!