On a horrible pitch, Morocco put in another underwhelming performance against a hard-fighting Comoros.
Despite winning the game in Casablanca on Saturday, we were expecting to see a Moroccan team ready to prove a point after a disappointing performance last time. But instead we witnessed yet another stressful game from start to finish with the ball mostly being everywhere but on the ground.
Comoros had a clear game-plan and executed it well, frustrating the Moroccans and taking the counters. The opening goal came early in the first half when Hamza Mendyl was caught sleeping on the left and Comoros could put in a cross which was hammered in by El Fardou Mohamed. After the break, Morocco got the strong wind in their favor and started to put in some balls behind the host’s defense. And it did work, when Achraf Hakimi volleyed the ball straight from Munir’s goal-kick. Khalid Boutaïb was awake and side-footed it in behind Ali Ahamada.
From that point, the course of the game changed. Morocco started winning the challenges and put more pressure on the Comoros defense. Nordin Amrabat lead the way as always and out of nowhere he was hit by Ahamada who smashed the ball straight into his knee and into the goal. Morocco had turned it around. The hosts looked tired and it seemed as if it was going to be another close win, but then El Fardou popped up again. In added time a cross was put in and the Red Star Belgrade forward sent Comoros to heaven.
With that result, the Atlas Lions sit on seven points from four games in second place. They still look certain to qualify, but Hervé Renard definitely have things to think about going forward. Here is Maghrib Foot’s player ratings (1-10):
Munir El Kajoui (5)
Couldn’t do much about the goals and made a good save when Comoros tried a good shot from the halfway line. Still struggling with the ball at his feet, especially now on a difficult pitch. Also needs to work on set-pieces and long balls where he tends to rush out with no chance of getting the ball.
Achraf Hakimi (5)
One of our better performers again, which says a lot, considering it was not a very good version of Hakimi this time. Always willing to contribute offensively, but didn’t have as much luck today. Lost his man on the first goal and should also have done better on the late equalizer. Did get an assist though – his second in these two games.
Nayef Aguerd (3)
With only one game for Dijon so far this season, Aguerd looked absolutely terrified to be back on the field in that first half. Poor positioning and not good enough on the ball. To his defense, it’s never easy coming in as a centre-back in those conditions. He will hopefully learn from this.
Ghanem Saïss (4)
Slightly more convincing than his partner, but not by a lot. Lost his man on the second goal and wasn’t able to make a difference with his passing.
Hamza Mendyl (2)
With a hard surface and ball easily bouncing, this was really not the game for Mendyl. Can’t remember him winning a challenge once and was directly at fault in both goals conceded when he was caught completely out of position. Has a lot of work to do.
Karim El Ahmadi (6 MOTM)
Solid as always. He’s not a spectacular player but El Ahmadi just doesn’t seem to have a bad game. His routine and discipline is so important to this team and he deservedly wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Medhi Benatia and Mbark Boussoufa.
Salaheddine Saidi (3)
A game to forget for Saidi. Was given a surprising start in the middle, but wasn’t able to get involved in any way. Made a couple of fouls and was eventually taken off after only 30 minutes of play.
Sofyan Amrabat (3)
Like Aguerd, he has barely featured for his club this season and looked like he had forgotten what it was like to start a game of football. Doesn’t seem to have learned from the decisive free-kick he made against Iran and continues to get fouls against him for unnecessary pushing in the back. Started in the number 10 role where he was completely anonymous. Did slightly better alongside El Ahmadi in a more familiar role.
Fayçal Fajr (5)
His set-pieces are still deadly, but apart from that he wasn’t able to make too much of an impact. Started on the wing but was soon placed behind Boutaïb. Had a cracking volley hitting the bar.
Nordin Amrabat (5)
You can never question his desire and he was eventually rewarded with a goal. But in these conditions it was always going to be hard for Amrabat to make use of his strengths. Not good enough technically to keep the ball on the ground and spent most of the time chasing it.
Khalid Boutaïb (4)
Needs to start using his body more. Looking at Boutaïb, you would expect him to be a lot more dominant when receiving the ball than he is. Awful in the first half, but got a goal after the break and looked a bit more confident after that.
Ismail El Haddad (6)
Solid display from El Haddad, who came on after half an hour to give the team more attacking threat on the left side. Had a couple of good chances which he missed, but was very lively and had a positive impact overall. Came off with a knee injury, which he’s struggled with before. Hoping it’s nothing serious.
Youssef En-Nesyri (5)
Came on for Boutaïb with the task of running as much as possible, by the looks of it. Had a good header that was saved by Ahamada, but that was about it.
Mehdi Bourabia (N/A)
Came on towards the end without any chance to make an impact. Not a debut to remember!