Morocco became the 4th African team to reach the Quarter-finals of the FIFA World cup after bundling out Spain on penalties.
After breaking the record of being the first Arab nation to reach the round of 16 of the Fifa World cup, they also set another record of becoming the first Arab nation to reach the last 8 of the World cup.
Led by former Wydad Athletic coach, Walid Regragui, who was only appointed 3 months before the tournament kick-started, the Moroccans have shown their defensive doggedness so far in the tournament.
The Atlas Lions’ doggedness at the back is evidenced by the fact that they have conceded just 1 goal so far which is the fewest conceded among the remaining 8 teams left at the World cup.
Can the Moroccans break the jinx of no African team advancing beyond the Quarter-finals phase of the World cup and how can they do that?
The first question answers itself because all the remaining teams stand a comparative chance of reaching the next stage, which is the semi-final.
This takes me to the next question on how Morocco can continue to beat the odds and advance to the last four.
The Moroccans have shown how they can be defensively dogged having conceded the fewest goals and second expected goals against ( goals expected to be conceded from chances created against a team) but they have to show more ambition offensively.
The remaining African standard bearer has scored the fewest goals (4 goals) and the lowest expected goals of the remaining teams left in Qatar which implies that they are not scoring enough and creating enough quality chances.
I get the fact they have been the inferior side against the opposition they have faced which explains why they have always s been pragmatic but they also need to threaten the opponents’ goal, especially on the counter.
Morocco’s next opposition is Portugal which has the highest expected goals among the remaining teams which means Morocco stands a good chance of hurting them. Therefore, Walid Regragui’s men must take advantage of the lack of pace of the Portuguese back line on the counter.
Trying to defend the whole game against the trickery of Joao Felix, Bernanado Silva and Bruno Fernandes might prove counter-productive.
They have exceeded expectations by reaching this stage but they have a big chance of making Africa proud and breaking more records.
While maintaining their impeccable defensive shape, Morocco has a chance of causing catastrophic damage to the Portuguese by making use of the pace of the front three of Hakim Ziyech, Youssef En-Nesyri, and Sofiane Boufal in transition.
It is difficult but doable and I hope the Moroccans can make history at the end of 90 minutes on Saturday against the former European Championship champions.