Morocco Cause A Huge Upset Against The So-Called Belgium's "Golden Generation".

 Morocco continued the theme of the World Cup of shocks by causing a huge upset against the so-called Belgium golden generation squad following a 2-0 victory on Sunday afternoon.

The Atlas Lions who had won their previous international friendly clash (4-1) against the Belgium side in March 2008, came into the game at the Al Thumama Stadium having began their 2022 World Cup campaign with a draw against last edition's finalists Croatia.

Morocco were dealt a huge blow after the national anthems was recited, as they have to overcome the loss of first-choice keeper Yassine Bounou just before kickoff after he complained about an eye problem. His replacement, Munir Mohamedi El Kajoui, acquitted himself well and played a key part by keeping a cleansheet in the famous win.

Morocco ranked 22 managed to contain a Belgian team ranked second in the world,  which led to a barren goalless first half that had a goal chalked off by VAR after Hakim Ziyech  free-kick from a tight angle eluded Thibault Courtois at the end of the half.

The deadlock was  finally broken with 17 minutes remaining as Abdelhamid Sabiri’s free-kick from near the touchline, beat Thibaut Courtois in goal in the 73rd minute to give the Moroccans the lead.

It was the first free-kick of the tournament to be converted by the substitute.

Zakaria Aboukhlal then sealed the victory for the North Africans by guiding a shot into the roof of the net off a pass from Hakim Ziyech in the 90th minute to close any door of return for the Belgians who did little to worry Morocco in the game.

It was Morocco's first World Cup win in 24 years since 1998, and only their third-ever World Cup win 18 games on the biggest stage. (They defeated Portugal 3-1 in 1986, and also recorded a 3-0 triumph against Scotland in 1998).

It's also the first win in five games at the World Cup for the Atlas Lions (D2 L2), and the first time that they’d recorded consecutive clean sheets at the World Cup since 1986, being the only African side yet to concede a goal at the tournament.

Meanwhile, the victory for Morocco leaves Group F wide open, as they now replace Belgium at the top with 4 points, while the losing side has slipped to the second spot before Croatia plays Canada later today.

The North African team, becomes the second African team to win a game at the ongoing 2022 World Cup after Senegal.

Head Coach Walid Regragui who becomes the first Moroccan coach to win a World Cup match, took over the national team in late August replacing Vahid Halilhodzic shortly after leading Wydad AC to the CAF Champions League glory against Al Ahly in May 2022.

He expressed his satisfaction with the Atlas Lions’ performance following their victory, saying that football is “about efficiency.”

“Today, the players ran too much, put in a lot of effort. But we haven't accomplished anything yet,” he said.

Regragui emphasized that the Atlas Lions still have to show efficiency and effort during its upcoming game against Canada on Thursday, December 1.

"I know everyone is delighted but I know football and you need to respect the game. I want everybody to be happy now but we need to recover quickly and get back to work. Canada will be a hard team to play and we have to respect them.

"We have to keep fighting, we want to get past this round and go to the next level. We played against one of the best teams in the world with big players, but we know that if you don’t give 100 per cent, it is impossible to win. With these players and these fans, anything is possible.

"We were humble enough in the first half to defend and know they will have most of the possession. We put in a lot of effort and came out in the second half to play a bit more.

"I said to the players we were going to have to put in maximum effort to get the ball off them. We wanted to stop them finding Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard. Sometimes you have to be patient and wait for your chance to come."

Morocco haven't conceded a goal since the appointment of Regragui (keeping six cleansheets in his six games in charge), and would hope to qualify for the knockout phase for the first time since 1986,  if they can avoid defeat against the Canadians iIrrespective of what happens in the other matches in the group.

It's Morocco's sixth time playing in the tournament after making an appearance in 1970, 1986, 1994, 1998, and 2018 respectively.

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