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Morocco celebrates winning group, keeps Canada pointless at World Cup

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nicholas Mendola discuss Croatia's commanding 4-1 win over Canada in Group F which kicks Canada out of contention in the 2022 World Cup.

Morocco is the surprise group winner of the 2022 World Cup after beating Canada 2-1 on Thursday in Al Khor.

The Atlas Lions took a 2-0 lead on goals from Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech and Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri and overcame an own goal to hold on for the win and a place above drawing Croatia in Group F.


Canada remains winless at the World Cup, going 0-3 In 1986 and 0-3 again this year, though this tournament will go down as a much better performance for the Canadians. They’ll wonder “What if?” from their opening 1-0 loss to Belgium for some time.

Morocco, meanwhile, will dream of what’s to come in the Round of 16: The runner-up of Group E from Thursday’s 2pm ET matches, as Spain, Japan, Germany, or Costa Rica could all still finish second.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Morocco fights on as Canada’s obvious weakness kills CONCACAF upstarts

A nation can, especially under the mass media radar in Northern Africa, apparently build a golden generation without the attention of the entire world, and Morocco’s performance in Qatar should send a strong message to knockout round opponents.

From goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to a back four that more than half the tournament field might envy, the Atlas Lions will like their chances against anyone as the tournament moves into the Round of 16.

Romain Saiss. Hakim Ziyech. Youssef En-Nesyri. Achraf Hakimi. The list of top-end players with great club resumes who are in their primes, whether just reaching or exiting that stage of their careers, is long amongst Walid Regragui’s men.

Meanwhile, Canada’s firepower was enough to reach the World Cup but its failure to defend was exposed time and again by all three opponents at the tournament.

This isn’t a shot against the effort of Alistair Johnston or Kamal Miller, as Canada’s defenders did a lot of yeoman’s work in Qatar, but the Canadians have developed so many intriguing attacking talents without a focus on how to stop those same-style players on the other team.

Maybe it’s a nation that, unlike the USMNT, has quickly piled its best talents into attack, who knows? But Canada was a nation counting on its European hero goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who did not have his best fortnight in Qatar, to bail out a group of backs who may not be top five in CONCACAF in terms of talent but had overperformed via effort and system.

Stars of the show

Canada vs Morocco

Hakim Ziyech goal video

Youssef En-Nesyri goal video

How to watch Canada vs Morocco live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Thursday Dec. 1
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Key storylines, players to watch closely

How will Canada respond to its 4-1 loss to Croatia? Superior against Belgium and essentially until Croatia equalized on Monday, John Herdman has to decide who will have the mettle to pop off the mat and challenge unbeaten Morocco. One of those faces will surely be Alphonso Davies. Who will join him? Jonathan David and Cyle Larin could use redemptive performances, to be sure.

Morocco looks very, very strong, especially out wide where Hakim Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi, and Sofiane Boufal operate the machine. A coming-out party for Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri could go a long way toward stretching the Atlas Lions’ tournament well into December.

Canada quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 41
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Qualified from CONCACAF (1st place)
Coach: John Herdman
Key players: Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Milan Borjan, Jonathan Osorio

Morocco quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 22
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CAF
Coach: Walid Regragui
Key players: Achraf Hakimi, Yassine Bounou, Youssef En-Nesyri, Romain Saiss

Follow @NicholasMendola