Morocco vs Senegal LIVE Football Score 21/12/2022
Morocco went into the World Cup as underdogs in Group F, which included European heavyweights Croatia and Belgium who, in 2018, were first and second runners-up. Heading to Qatar, Belgium ranked second in the world. The group also included Canada, who easily led the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football group in qualifying. In three rounds of play, Morocco drew with Croatia, beat Belgium 2-0 and edged out Canada 2-1 to win the group.
Going by the fan support in Qatar, Morocco finds itself in a unique position: it carries the dual hopes of both Africa and the Arab region. Morocco is the only Arabic speaking nation remaining in the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East. It’s also the only African nation to win a group for the second time, its first time being in 1986. Even with that pressure, Morocco has the technical and tactical capacity to cope. The team has been steady, organised, serene, defensively sound, creative in midfield and smart in attack.
Sixteen remaining teams are playing in the knock-out phase of the 2022 men’s football Fifa World Cup in Qatar, among them two African teams – Senegal and Morocco. The knock-out phase in Qatar reminds football fans globally of the unmistakable glass ceiling over Africa at football World Cups. Despite spicing the tournaments with outstanding and iconic moments, African teams have always fallen short of Brazilian football great Pelé’s assertion that an African team would win the World Cup by 2000.
The determination of African teams in Qatar have roused fans across the continent. With Ghana, Cameroon and Tunisia eliminated, the hopes of Africa now rest on the shoulders of Morocco and Senegal. Their performances so far show that both teams have the potential to go all the way.
Morocco was the only team in the group to win twice, edging out Canada and upsetting Belgium 2-0, a result that led to riots in Brussels. Morocco has appeared in 1970, 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2018. It was the first African country to lead a group heading to the final 16 in 1986; and they were the first team to represent the continent after the boycott of the 1966 World Cup by African teams seeking direct representation at the World Cup. The current team should look to their 1986 squad for inspiration.
The 2022 team, coached by Walid Regragui, is counting on star players Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech, Romain Saïss and Yassine Bounou to steer them past a talented Spanish team in their first game of the knockout stage. Morocco has often been a trailblazer and the meeting with Spain presents an opportunity to break through to the quarter-final and possibly beyond.
Senegal For their part, reigning African Cup of Nations champions Senegal won their decisive group game against Ecuador 2-1 even without injured superstar Sadio Mané. They qualified for the final 16 as runner-up to Netherlands after beating hosts Qatar and losing to Netherlands. Their last group match was on the second anniversary of the death of the 2002 World Cup hero, Papa Bouba Diop. Ismaïla Sarr and captain Kalidou Koulibaly scored. They dedicated their progress to their idol Diop and their talisman Mané.
Senegal’s World Cup benchmark remains their historic 2002 debut, where they shocked the footballing world with a win over defending champions France. This led to a deep run to the quarter-finals, the second African team ever to reach the final eight. The Lions of Teranga must go past the talented England team to match this feat. The way the team coped with Netherlands may have given them confidence that they can overcome top European opposition in a one-match duel.
England are ranked 5th in the world and Senegal 18th. But, examples of higher-ranked teams (Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Uruguay, Mexico) bowing out early in Qatar is an indication that a team’s ranking may not matter in the face of inspired, passionate application by a mentally strong underdog (Morocco, South Korea, Australia and Japan).
The Lions of Teranga have a solid side with good experience down its spine from the goalkeeper to the striking positions including Édouard Mendy, captain Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye, Ismaïla Sarr and Boulaye Dia. The team, which bounced back from the initial loss to Netherlands, has shown they’re endowed with many individual talents who have played together often. They’re characterised by a strong team spirit and never-say-die attitude. However, they will need to play organised, inspired and disciplined football to emulate their 2002 heroes.
Morocco and North Africa have become the talk of the town in the ongoing FIFA World Cup. No one tipped the North African country to advance from a group that included Croatia, Belgium, and Canada. But the Walid Regragui-coached side surprised everyone with its resolute football to qualify for the round of 16 by topping group F.
In doing so, Morocco became the first African team to win its group in this century. The last time an African country progressed by topping the group was Nigeria in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Morocco, who remained unbeaten in the group with two wins and a draw, also equaled the record of notching up maximum points — 7 — by an African team at a World Cup. The success of the side sent Moroccan fans into a tizzy. “We cried and cried. The tears were uncontrollable. It’s one of the biggest occasions in the history of Morocco. We never thought that we can make it out of the group. So, topping the group was a bonus for us. We are elated,” said Elmahdi Rahmani, a Moroccan who lives in Qatar.
Morocco are not the only team that has brought joy to African fans. West Africa’s Senegal, the reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions, have also stamped their class in the tournament by qualifying for the pre-quarters. Senegal, despite losing their opener against the Netherlands, beat Qatar and Ecuador to progress to the next round of the competition, after narrowly missing out four years earlier in Russia. Back in January 2022, Senegal won their first-ever AFCON title after years of falling short of the target.
Another North African nation, Tunisia, missed the round of 16 cut by a narrow margin. African hope of more last-16 berths also centers around Ghana and Cameroon, who are yet to play their final group matches at the time of writing. With both Morocco and Tunisia doing well, North African football has come under focus. For the record, Morocco were the first African side ever to reach the knockouts in 1986 World Cup when they finished ahead of England after defeating Portugal 3-1 before losing to West Germany in the last 16.
Still, Morocco’s progress to the last 16 in the ongoing World Cup has been quite special. Similarly, Tunisia’s stunning win over France in their last group match is being celebrated by African fans all over Doha. Tunisia finished third in Group D behind France and Australia.
It’s not only the eye-catching football of these two countries that are being talked about at the World Cup but their approach to the game is also being discussed widely. Both the North African teams assembled and integrated players who hold dual nationality. Most of these footballers have diverse backgrounds and are from diaspora communities across Europe and the African nations have done well to tap into these talents. At the 2022 World Cup, 16 per cent of players, or 137 players, on all teams represent a country other than their birthplace. Morocco top the list with 14 players on their 26-member squad born overseas. Tunisia, on the other hand, have 11.
The Moroccans have been successful in convincing a few star players represent the African nation at Qatar. They are Munir El Haddadi, Achraf Hakimi, and Hakim Ziyech. While El Haddadi, who was born in Spain and came through the ranks of Atletico Madrid before joining Barcelona, is an attacker who played for Spain at the international level before switching to Morocco last year, Spanish-born Achraf Hakimi and Dutch-born Ziyech have made the Morocco national team more competitive and given the fans much to cheer about.
The spirit and sentiments of the supporters were visible in the sides’ matches as the crowd created a partisan atmosphere inside the stadium, particularly during Tunisia’s games. Tunisia head coach Jalel Kadri also acknowledged the crowd support. “(They) lifted our spirits. Mentally it gives us a great lift and really helped us, but tactically and physically we also played very well,” Kadri said in a post-match press conference.
With Morocco advancing to the round of 16, one can expect more fervour from the fans and that would certainly give the team extra motivation when they face Spain on December 6. Senegal, meanwhile, will face England.