Morocco qualified for the World Cup round of 16 after defeating Canada with two goals to one in the match that was held at Al-Thumama Stadium in the last round of Group F.
Morocco topped the group with seven points, followed by Croatia with five points, then Belgium with four points, and finally Canada without points.
The Moroccan national team has previously surpassed the group stage in the World Cup only once, and that was in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Morocco’s goals were scored by Hakim Ziyech in the fourth minute and Youssef Al-Nusairi in the 23rd minute, while Canada’s only goal was scored by Nayef Akrad in the 41st minute.
Morocco needed to win or draw to ensure qualification without waiting for the result of the other confrontation between the national teams of Croatia and Belgium, which was held at the same time and ended in a goalless draw.
Thus, the Moroccan national team became the first African and Arab team to qualify for the round of 16 of the World Cup, collecting 7 points.
It also became the first Arab team to top the group standings in the World Cup and qualify without losing, and the second in Africa after Nigeria in 1998.
This is the second time that two teams from Africa have qualified for the round of sixteen for the World Cup after the 2014 edition, and the number may increase from that if Cameroon and Ghana, who will play tomorrow, qualify.
This is the first time that Morocco has achieved two victories in one edition of the World Cup.
Thus, Morocco and Croatia qualify for the round of sixteen, awaiting the two matches in Group E, where the “Khalifa International” stadium will host the match between Spain and Japan, while Germany will play against Costa Rica at the “Al-Bayt” stadium.
Spain leads the group standings with four points, while Japan comes in second place with three points, then Costa Rica with the same balance in third place, while Germany bottoms the group standings with one point.
There will be no choice for the German national team but to win over Costa Rica, provided that Spain avoid losing to Japan, in order to pass to the second round, while Costa Rica will suffice to draw if Spain beats Japan.
Before the Canada match, Morocco’s head coach, Walid Rekragui, said it “would be a mistake” to play for a tie against Canada.
“We are facing a team that has nothing to lose,” he added.
“The players will do their best until the final whistle,” he added.
“It would be a mistake to play for a point. It would be a mistake to go into the game thinking you need to put in 20 or 30 percent of your effort just because a draw would be good for us,” Regragui said.
Arab teams bid farewell to the tournament
Three Arab teams, namely Qatar, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, were eliminated from the tournament in the first round, despite the good performance of some of them. Saudi Arabia achieved a historic victory over Argentina, and Tunisia beat France.
Qatar was the first Arab team to bid farewell to the tournament after losing the three matches it played in the group stage, to bid farewell to the World Cup without getting a single point.
Tunisia was eliminated from the tournament despite its historic victory over France, the defending champion, with a goal without a response, in the last round of the group stage. The Tunisian team scored four points, with a draw with Denmark, a loss from Australia, and a victory over France.
Despite the historic start of the Saudi national team by defeating Argentina in the first round with two goals to one, it lost the next two matches against Poland and Mexico, so that Saudi Arabia failed to repeat the achievement of 1994 in the United States of America when it qualified for the round of sixteen.
Saudi Arabia ranked fourth and last in its group, with three points, to deposit the championship with the third-placed Mexican team, while Argentina qualified in the lead and Poland in second place.
The teams of France, Brazil, England, Portugal, Senegal, the Netherlands, the United States and Australia ensured promotion to the second round, while the teams of Qatar, Canada, Ecuador, Iran, Wales, Tunisia, Denmark, Mexico and Saudi Arabia were eliminated.
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