At a high level and with confidence on the rise after his great fourth place in Qatar-2022, The Moroccan national team beat Brazil 2-1 this Saturday in a friendly match in Tangier, a match in which the five-time champions suffered the loss of the injured Neymar. Midfielders Sofiane Boufal (29) and Abdelhamid Sabiri (79) gave the Africans victory, against Brazil against the five-time champions with many new faces, and for the first time in almost seven years they did not have Tite on the bench.
The defeat of Brazil will have an impact on the FIFA Ranking, where the team from Rio de Janeiro was the leader, and from this Monday Argentina will be at the top of that global table, in favor of their 2-0 victory against Panama this week in Buenos Aires .
After failing in the World Cup, where Croatia eliminated them in the quarterfinals, Brazil suffered the departure of Tite and he was replaced in Tangier on an interim basis by the U-20 coach, Ramon Menezes. Captain Casemiro had partially equalized midway through the second half with a shot from outside the area, complicit in a weak response from goalkeeper Bounou, who was a great figure for the North Africans in Qatar.
In the packed Ibn Batouta stadium in the Moroccan city, before the ball started rolling, both teams paid tribute to “king” Pelé, who died last December at the age of 82.
At the beginning, Brazil was pressured by the ‘Atlas Lions’, protagonists of the best performance of an African team in a World Cup. Although the South Americans, who also did not have the injured Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Richarlison, Possession was soon taken away from them, Walid Regragui’s men did not give up that letter until they received a reward.
Around half an hour into the game, three Moroccans put pressure on right-back Emerson Royal at the start, took the ball from him and entered the box. Bilal El Khannouss gave the ball to Boufal, who spun to dislodge Casemiro and shot with his right foot into an impossible angle for goalkeeper Weverton, one of ten of the 23 called up by Menezes for this game that was in Qatar.
The advantage thrilled Morocco, which in the minutes before the goal suffered from the partnership that Vinicius Jr and Lucas Paquetá formed in the area of Achraf Hakimi, the PSG right-back who is accused of rape in France.
Con Rodrygo Far from Neymar’s level in the first half, the Brazilian attack fell to ‘come’, protagonist in the best visiting options: a one-on-one from Rony (13), another rookie, and collective pressure that forced ‘Bono’ (24) to leave the goal empty, although the goalkeeper managed to pull himself together.
Rodrygo seemed to wake up at the start of the second half (47) by demanding the goalkeeper to the maximum with a volley. But the advantage allowed Morocco to play as it shines: defending and counterattacking. With thirty minutes to go, Menezes moved the bench, without achieving major changes, except for a short interruption (72) due to a problem in the lighting of the stadium and a no lesser detail: Bounou’s blunder.
Accustomed to being the hero, the Sevilla (ESP) goalkeeper slipped a shot from Casemiro under his body. But Sabiri, after a bad start from the Brazilian defense, saved it with a right foot that hit the crossbar and crossed the line.
Morocco will now face Peru in a friendly on Tuesday in Madrid, while the ‘Seleção’ will focus on finding a replacement for Tite. The Italian Carlo Ancelotti, according to the local press, is the main candidate.
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