FIFA Girls’s World Cup 2023 | Morocco makes extra historical past, reaches knockouts with win over Colombia

August 03, 2023 10:32 pm | Up to date August 04, 2023 06:05 pm IST – PERTH, Australia

Morocco’s Hanane Ait El Haj, right, watches as Colombia’s Manuela Vanegas, down, challenges Morocco’s Sakina Ouzraoui during the Women’s World Cup Group H soccer match between Morocco and Colombia in Perth, Australia, on August 3, 2023.

Morocco’s Hanane Ait El Haj, proper, watches as Colombia’s Manuela Vanegas, down, challenges Morocco’s Sakina Ouzraoui throughout the Girls’s World Cup Group H soccer match between Morocco and Colombia in Perth, Australia, on August 3, 2023.
| Photograph Credit score: AP

After taking part in their half by edging Colombia 1-0, Morocco’s Atlas Lionesses huddled on the pitch in Perth to observe the top of the Germany-South Korea group-stage finale on the Girls’s World Cup and hope it remained tied.

“We had the telephone and we began praying. We have been praying whereas we have been watching the sport,” mentioned midfielder Anissa Lahmari, who scored Morocco’s successful aim in first-half stoppage time on Thursday. “Afterwards it was only a full explosion of pleasure.”

Cue celebrations, each in Morocco and different components of the Arab world.

In one of the surprising outcomes within the final days of the group stage, Morocco superior to the knockout spherical in second place behind Colombia whereas No. 2-ranked Germany did not advance for the primary time on the event.

Morocco is the primary Arab or North African nation to qualify for the Girls’s World Cup and now the primary to advance past the group stage. That’s one thing not one of the different seven event newcomers managed to do.

And it began with a thumping 6-0 loss to Germany. Whereas the Moroccans recovered to win their subsequent two video games, Germany misplaced 2-1 to Colombia after which was held 1-1 by South Korea when it wanted a win in Brisbane to keep away from elimination.

“After we had gained the match, probably the most disturbing factor was the opposite match,” Morocco coach Reynald Pedros mentioned.

The final two group video games began on the identical time on reverse sides of the Australian continent however stoppage time in Brisbane lasted longer.

“We waited, after which the excellent news arrived. It was unbelievable,” Pedros mentioned.

If Morocco’s qualification for the Girls’s World Cup impressed a technology, this run to the knockout stage will cement a legacy for the Atlas Lionesses.

The win over South Korea final weekend was historic for the workforce, for Ibtissam Jraïdi scoring the Morocco’s first World Cup aim, and for an additional vital milestone — defender Nouhaila Benzina grew to become the primary participant to put on a Hijab in a World Cup recreation on the senior degree.

“After the primary match of the event, I believe 98% of individuals thought it was over, other than us,” Pedros mentioned. “We thought we might do one thing, as a result of soccer is magic.

“We all know that feelings and laborious work can result in good issues. If we’re on the subsequent stage, it’s as a result of we deserve it, for all of the laborious work.”

The sport in opposition to Colombia was an excellent contest proper by means of the primary half till Jraidi was fouled within the penalty space within the dying seconds earlier than the break. Ghizlane Chebbak’s penalty try was saved, however Lahmari swooped on the rebound to place her workforce forward of Colombia — and, simply as importantly, forward of Germany within the standings.

Colombia had its finest scoring probability within the 59th minute, when 18-year-old Linda Caicedo served a ball to the far publish, which Daniela Montoya one-timed to the left of goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi. The Moroccan ‘keeper made a reflex kick save, blocking the ball with simply the entrance fringe of her proper cleat.

Within the 69th, Caicedo, after a future, stopped and leaned on the sector barrier, reaching all the way down to her left ankle and foot. She appeared hobbled for a number of minutes however stayed within the match.

Why it issues

Moroccan soccer followers have had loads of have a good time with their nationwide groups at the latest World Cups. The Atlas Lionesses created historical past simply by qualifying, after which simply by scoring their first win. Beating Colombia to knock Germany out of the event was one other degree.

Morocco’s males’s workforce additionally made World Cup historical past final yr. Within the 2022 males’s World Cup, the Atlas Lions superior to the spherical of 16 for the primary time since 1986 and have become the primary African or Arab nation to achieve a World Cup semifinal.

Colombia wins its group for the primary time in workforce historical past and is within the knockout rounds for the primary time since 2015.

In their very own phrases

Morocco’s followers “are going to help us yet another time. We love them, we cherish them, we really feel they’re behind us. It provides us power. Nicely completed to all the ladies and we’re persevering with on our merry method.” — Reynald Pedros, Morocco coach.

“It was an intense recreation and a really strategic recreation. We misplaced due to a mistake we made within the aim space, with the penalty.” — Nelson Abadía, Colombia coach.

What’s subsequent

Morocco, because the Group H runner-up, will play Group F winner France in Adelaide on Tuesday. Colombia will play Group F runner-up Jamaica the identical day in Melbourne.

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