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France vs Morocco in Qatar 2022 World Cup Semi-Finals: Is it Africa against Europe or Africa against Africa?

By Burnett Munthali

The debate continues everywhere in the capital in Lilongwe about France versus Morocco. I can’t just wait for this magical moment.

I went for shopping in town in a super market. I cannot remember very well how the conversation started but all I remember is that the world cup discussion started in the shop.

It was a team of workers in the fully packed supermarket who started talking about France and Morocco game scheduled to take place tonight and I just jumped into the debate with a question. Who will carry the day?

Of course the answers were in support of both sides. I happily concluded that the good thing was that the two teams would play today to end this kind of debate and only one team would win.

I left town and found another heated debate in a barber shop about the same game. France v Morocco was the topic.

Hours are slowly drawing near and the doomsday is fast approaching.

Will France walk over Morocco or the Atlas Lions beat France, the Blues, and surprise the world again?

African trailblazers Morocco will endeavour to continue their magical World Cup 2022 journey when they face a monumental test of their mettle against current holders France in Wednesday’s semi-final at the Al Bayt Stadium.

The Atlas Lions stunned Portugal 1-0 to reach the final four, while Les Bleus sent a dogged England side home via a 2-1 scoreline to keep their hopes of back-to-back titles alive, and either Argentina will await the victors in the showpiece event.

Match preview
A missed Harry Kane penalty is a collector’s item in football, and France were the “lucky” recipients – according to Didier Deschamps – of such good fortune, as the reigning champions prevented England from bringing football home in a memorable quarter-final.

Aurelien Tchouameni’s thunderbolt and Olivier Giroud’s header either side of an accurate Kane penalty got the job done for France, although Bleus supporters were relieved and stunned in equal measure when the England captain blazed a second spot kick over the top.

France also had to survive a late Marcus Rashford free kick which nestled onto the roof of the net, and referee Wilton Sampaio found himself at the centre of controversy too, but a place in the semi-final was wholly deserved for a Bleus side whose aspirations of back-to-back titles are still on.

Les Bleus failed to win any of their first three World Cup semi-finals, but they have since prevailed on their last three occasions in 1998, 2006 and 2018, and it has been 84 years since a European nation managed to reach the World Cup final as reigning champions – the Italian luminaries of 1934 and 1938 were the most recent to do so.

By conceding to Kane from the spot, France ensured that they would still be without a World Cup 2022 clean sheet ahead of their semi-final with Morocco, who by contrast certainly know a thing or two about keeping opposing players at bay, even with defensive alterations being forced upon them.

No matter what transpires at the Al Bayt Stadium on tonight, the current Morocco crop have already cemented their place in national and continental folklore as the first-ever African nation to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Being forced to cope without Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui while meeting a Portugal side who hit Switzerland for six was not what the doctor ordered for Walid Regragui, but his stand-ins performed admirably to keep A Selecao at bay, and a Youssef En-Nesyri header was all it took for the Atlas Lions to make African history.

Having taken maximum spoils against three international behemoths in Belgium, Spain and Portugal, Morocco would be worthy finalists indeed, and the Atlas Lions enter the semi-final having remarkably prevented opposing players from scoring in the entire tournament so far.

Aguerd’s own goal against Canada represents the only time that Yassine Bounou has been beaten in Qatar – Regragui’s side otherwise have four clean sheets to their name – and the Morocco faithful ought to enjoy this statistic, as the last two teams to keep five clean sheets in a single World Cup were Italy in 2006 and Spain in 2010, both of whom went on to become champions.

Profligacy has been of major benefit to Morocco too, as only nine of the 45 shots they have faced at the World Cup have been on target, but facing a France side who have never suffered defeat to the Atlas Lions in five matches should not intimidate Regragui’s players or their vociferous fanbase.

The battle begins few hours from now!

Maravi Post Author
Maravi Post Author
Today's Opinion · Op-Ed Columnists · Editorials · Op-Ed Contributors to the Maravi Post· The Maravi Post accepts opinion essays on any topic. Published pieces typically run from 400 to 1,200 words, but drafts of any length within the bounds of reason will be considered.
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