Heartbreak for Morocco as Africa’s hopes wither in Russia
It was a day of heartbreak for Africa as Morocco joined Egypt on the list of losing teams in Russia.
First it was Egypt who lost through a cruel last-minute goal to Uruguay during Friday’s early kick off. However, there was still hope across the continent with Morocco lined up against a fancy Iran side.
But as Aziz Bouhaddouz headed into his own net in the 95 minute to hand the Asians a shock win, it highlighted the challenge of African sides.
For larger spells Morocco were the dominant side but, just like Egypt, they lacked potency upfront and were largely ineffective in the final third.
This was a tournament for the African teams to rise to the occasion, however, with two of the continent’s best sides losing their opening games, it remains to be seen if the others can make amends.
The Carthage Eagles were up against the cheapest opponent in group B but they blew away their chance. In a group containing Portugal and Spain, picking up three points against the Asian minnows would have been a good start.
But as it stands, the North Africans are as good as eliminated with tough test to come against the two European heavyweights.
There are still three Africa teams to play, but it is fair to say that Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal are in far tougher groups than Egypt and Morocco.
The battle line has been drawn, but it is increasingly looking like Africa will once again fall short in the World Cup.
In the last four editions of the World Cup, only one African team has been able to progress into the knockout stages. Russia 2018 looks like it will follow this same trajectory, at least from the early indications.
Morocco’s loss may have been lamented in Rabat, but the whole of Africa felt it too, as the continent’s hopes continue to wither in Russia.