Africa got its second candidate in the second round of the current FIFA World Cup in Qatar yesterday, when Morocco defeated Canada 2-1 to advance to that stage.
Senegal had beaten Ecuador 2-1 on Tuesday to advance to the round of 16, but Tunisia were not so lucky, as their 1-0 loss to France on Wednesday failed to earn them a ticket to the second round.
Yesterday, at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium, the first half bombardment of Morocco caught Canada by surprise when it collapsed under North African force.
Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri scored the goals that secured Morocco top spot in Group F and a place in the World Cup round of 16 for the first time in 36 years.
Morocco were tied in a tough group, including Croatia and Belgium, who finished second and third in 2018 respectively, but took four points from European teams before holding on to victory against Canada in their final group match.
Morocco will now play against the runner-up in Group E, made up of Spain, Japan, Costa Rica and Germany. The Group E matches concluded late yesterday.
A Croatian victory over Belgium, which was being played at the same time Morocco played Canada, could have dropped the North Africans to second place, but it was the Croats who finished runners-up after drawing 0-0 with Roberto Martínez’s side. . who fell in the group stage.
Canada, playing in its first World Cup since 1986, disallowed a goal shortly before halftime when Nayef Aguerd inadvertently converted Sam Adekugbe’s cross into his own net, but ultimately finished bottom of the standings, unsuccessful. a point.
Today, Ghana and Cameroon will battle to join the Moroccans in the Round of 16 when they take on Uruguay and Brazil respectively. for West Africans.
The game is remembered for Luis Suárez’s famous handball, which prevented what would have been a winning goal for the West Africans. The resulting penalty was missed by Asamoah Gyan to take the game to a penalty shootout, which the Uruguayans won 4–2 to earn a place in the semi-final.
There has been talk of revenge among the Africans in Qatar, but Ghana coach Otto Addo believes it is much more than that. He admits he would ‘hope’ his players would repeat Luis Suarez’s infamous handball if need be, as the African nation prepares to face Uruguay for the first time since the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals.
Addo admitted that Suárez’s actions 12 years ago were “normal” and he would expect his team to do everything possible to qualify for the round of 16.
“Generally, it’s all about perspective, if the same incident had happened in reverse and Ghana had reached the semi-finals, everyone would say that it’s normal for a player to do everything possible to help his team reach the final. semifinals,” Addo said.
Although he admitted that for many Ghanaians, today’s rematch is not a normal game, he also stressed that his team must focus solely on securing victory.
Suárez had previously refused to apologize for the handball, with the veteran striker saying Gyan was at fault for missing the penalty.
A reporter had told the 35-year-old that people in Ghana regard him as “the devil himself” and are hoping to retire him. Uruguay have to beat Ghana if they want to progress to the round of 16, having won just one point from their first two matches.
In Africa’s second match of the day, Cameroon will try to beat a changed Brazilian team to reach the round of 16. Brazil coach Tite is reportedly set to follow France’s lead and rest key players for their final group game against Cameroon with his place. in the last 16 for sure.
Predicted as favorites for the trophy in Qatar, Brazil need only draw with Cameroon at Lusail Stadium to secure first place in Group G after starting their campaign with wins over Serbia and Switzerland.
Even a loss wouldn’t stop them from topping the section as long as the Swiss don’t win at the same time against Serbia, but France have already shown that changing most of their starting lineup doesn’t necessarily work.
The defending champions made nine changes for the final group game against Tunisia on Wednesday and put in a disjointed performance in the 1-0 loss.
Cameroon is trying to get past the group stage for the first time since reaching the quarterfinals in 1990, when a team led by striker Roger Milla was knocked out by England after extra time in Italy. Cameroon did not qualify for the last World Cup in Russia four years ago.
On his team’s chances against the five-time world champions, Cameroon’s coach Rigobert Song said: “We will be focused and very disciplined for the 90 minutes. I want to see the determination and commitment that will allow us to get the three points”.
Cameroon opened their campaign with a loss to Switzerland and then drew with Serbia. And, in theory, they have options in the last game of the group stage due to all the expected changes in the Brazil squad.
Tite planned to only use reserve players, starting with Ederson replacing Alisson in goal. Veteran Dani Alves was among those coming into defense, while Fabinho was set to play in midfield. Antony and Gabriel Martinelli are expected to join the attack.
“Brazil has 26 players of a very high level,” Tite said. “And we have a great team overall.” Neymar, right-back Danilo and left-back Alex Sandro were unavailable due to injuries. Neymar was still treating his right ankle injury and it was unclear when he would return.
Alves, 39, could become the oldest Brazilian to play in a World Cup, ahead of Thiago Silva, 38, who captains Brazil in Qatar. Alves’ last match at a World Cup was in the round of 16 of the 2014 tournament in Brazil. The right back was injured before the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Cameroon needs to beat Brazil and pray that Serbia and Switzerland draw to reach the round of 16. The Indomitable Lions can still pull it off if Serbia beat Switzerland by two goals or less. A victory for Switzerland automatically eliminates the Africans.