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Eliminated Canada face Morocco on Thursday afternoon in their final World Cup group game.
John Herdman’s “little old Canada” fell to a second defeat against a motivated Croatia to confirm their premature exit from the tournament. Morocco, conversely, are very much in the competition after surging past a sleepy Belgium on Sunday.
With four points from their first two games, Morocco can be assured of a place in the last 16 if they beat Canada. A draw would be enough for the Atlas Lions if Croatia avoid defeat against Belgium in the game played simultaneously on the other side of Doha. A Belgian loss would see Morocco advance regardless of their Canadian contest.
Here’s everything you need to know about Morocco’s attempts to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1986.
Canada vs Morocco H2H Results (All Time)
Current Form (Last Five Games)
Canada team news
Stephen Eustaquio had been struggling with muscle soreness in the days leading up to Canada’s meeting with Croatia. The Porto midfielder was removed during the interval of the 4-1 loss and is a doubt heading into Thursday’s game.
Without any knockout place at stake, Herdman may be tempted to rotate his roster, giving minutes to those that are yet to feature in Canada’s first World Cup in 36 years.
Canada Starting 11 (3-4-3): Borjan; Johnston, Vitoria, Miller; Laryea, Osorio, Kone, Adekugbe; Buchanan, David, Davies.
Bench: Pantemis, St. Clair, Cornelius, Waterman, Eustaquio, Fraser, Piette, Kaye, Hutchinson, Hoilett, Wotherspoon, Millar, Larin, Cavallini, Ugbo.
Morocco team news
Yassine Bounou stood to hear Morocco’s national anthem but pulled out of the starting XI moments before kick off against Belgium. His manager Walid Regragrui revealed that the goalkeeper “took a whack against Croatia” and was a doubt heading into the contest.
Similar fitness concerns loomed over both first-choice fullbacks. Noussair Mazraoui and Achraf Hakimi overcame hip and hamstring issues respectively to start. Even though PSG‘s Hakimi was taken off with a quarter of the match to play, both are expected to be available for this key clash.
Morocco Starting 11 (4-3-3): Munir; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saiss, Mazraoui; OUnahi, Amrabat, Amallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.
Bench: Tagnaouti, Benoun, Dari, El Yamiq, Allah, Jabrane, Chair, El Khannouss, Sabiri, Zaroury, Abde, Aboukhlal, Cheddira, Hamdallah.
Alphonso Davies made history by becoming the first Canadian to score at a men’s World Cup – banishing the demons of his penalty miss against Belgium – but Herdman’s side might find it tough to add to that tally.
Morocco’s shutout against Belgium was the team’s sixth consecutive clean sheet. More than ten hours of football has elapsed since South Africa’s Lyle Foster was on target back in June.
With their raucous travelling support roaring them on, the well-drilled Atlas Lions have a good chance of securing three crucial points – although, it is not in character for Herdman’s Canada to limply roll over even though their flight has already been booked.
Prediction: Canada 0-1 Morocco
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