Friendly: Morocco beat Brazil for the first time

An international friendly on Saturday saw Morocco defeat heavyweights Brazil 2-1 in their first game since a heroic Fifa World Cup campaign – Qatar 2022.

The Atlas Lions made history in front of 65,000 Grand Stade de Tanger fans.

Morocco started the game quite brightly, seeing more of the ball in the opening 10 minutes than the visitors.

Brazil began to gain control after applying more aggression and debutant Rony missed a sitter from close range in the 13th minute.

Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou surprisingly self-inflicted problems in attempting to play from the back and was badly caught up twice – with both Rony and Vinicius Jr denied by a timely block by a defender and the shot-stopper himself.

In the 26th minute, Bounou’s cup of errors filled up as he allowed the Real Madrid winger to put the ball into an empty net. However, his blushes were saved by VAR which detected offside in the build-up.

In the following play, Emerson Royal lost the ball near his own box and Morocco utilized the golden opportunity to score a goal through Sofiane Boufal, who was assisted by Bilal El Khannous.

Boufal’s strike inside 29 minutes became Morocco’s first-ever against the five-time World Cup winners – their only previous meeting ended with a 3-0 result.

Winger Hakim Ziyech missed two opportunities before half-time. At the other end, goalkeeper Bounou saved Rodrygo from levelling.

Brazil returned for the second half with more urgency with Casemiro leading the charge. And thanks to a poor mistake by Bounou, the Manchester United midfielder – who bore the captain’s armband for the Selecao – saw his weak shot slip under the goalkeeper and inside the net. 1-1 after 67 minutes.

The Moroccans looked subdued after making several changes before conceding the equaliser. However, it was one of the substitutes who won the day.

Walid Regragui’s men restored the lead in the 79th minute through substitute Abdelhamid Sabiri. He took down a lost ball inside the Brazilian box and unleashed an unstoppable strike into the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

It had been a partying atmosphere throughout the game and the team and fans needed this winning goal to complete their celebrations. Once again, Morocco, the first African team to reach the semi-finals, satisfied their fans after a World Cup run that prompted tears of joy on the continent.

This passes for a statement win by the Atlas Lions who have set their sights on rubbing shoulders with world football powerhouses by heavily investing in talent and infrastructure over the years.

Morocco is looking to win the rights to host the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in 2025 and is now part of a joint bid for the 2030 Fifa World Cup with Portugal and Spain.

Morocco’s next friendly is Peru on Tuesday, March 28.

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