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One weakness in Canada’s roster during their qualification campaign was their poor start, which saw them draw four games in their first five matches. They showed a lack of killer instinct in front of goal and struggled to finish their chances; something which could have easily left them in a worse position in the qualification table had other results gone against them – especially as they then went on to lose two of their final three matches. At the World Cup , every game is a high stakes match and should be viewed as a cup final and John Herdman will be hoping his side can improve their finishing if they are to progress to the knockout stage from World Cup Group F.
If Canada do not win any of their first two matches in Group F, they’ll likely already be out of the World Cup. If not, this game could be the difference between group progression or elimination and Canada will view Morocco as an opponent they can show more attacking intent and ball possession against as opposed to their first two difficult group matches; something that will play into the team’s strengths as their most exciting players shine in the final third.
Canada player to watch: Jonathan David
Jonathan David was a crucial player for French side Lille in the 2021/22 season as he featured in every game of the campaign. He started 32 and appeared as a substitute on six occasions. The young striker ended the season as Ligue 1’s joint sixth top goal scorer with 15 goals, as well as being the club’s top scorer. The Canadian’s three UEFA Champions League goals caught the attention of many fans as he helped his club progress out of the group stages. He will be hoping to replicate that in Qatar for his country.
During Canada’s World Cup qualification process, David contributed to the team’s success with nine goals with the pick of the bunch being his magnificent second half hattrick against Suriname. His five goals in the latter stages of CONACAF qualifying helped the team book their way to their second ever World Cup.
The young, talented forward will be allowed to express himself against Morocco as chances are more likely to fall his way, so a bet on him to score anytime looks good value.
Pic: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Morocco breezed through their qualification group in style with a 100% record; winning all six games and scoring 20 goals in the process whilst also keeping five clean sheets - conceding just once. If that wasn’t enough, they then entered a knockout round against DR Congo and thumped them 5-2 on aggregate to book their ticket to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
This will be Morocco’s sixth outing on the biggest stage in world soccer with their most recent experience in the World Cup coming in 2018 when they were eliminated in the group stage after being dealt a tricky draw against Spain and Portugal. This winter may see a similar fate as in 2018 as Morocco are placed in an unfavorable group and are in a similar situation to Canada as they both play the big two teams in the group before they play each other - meaning this final group match could be worth nothing more than bragging rights.
Morocco is a side that can trouble teams and score goals on their day as seen in six of their qualifiers where they scored at least three goals - but we don’t see them having enough quality to beat the likes of Belgium and Croatia.
Morocco player to watch: Ayoub El Kaabi
A player Canada needs to be on high alert for is Ayoub El Kaabi as the Moroccan forward has had a fantastic season for his side Hatayspor in the Turkish Superlig. El Kaabi scored an impressive 18 goals for his team in the 2021/22 season placing him as the league’s second top goalscorer. Hatayspor finished the league in 12th place and their prolific striker might be a name bigger clubs want to sign. The season before that he scored 18 goals for Moroccan side Wydad Casblanca.
For his national side, El Kaabi scored five times to help Morocco get to the World Cup. The striker’s talent is highlighted in his minutes per goal ratio, with a goal scored every 89 minutes during the qualification period. He is a player that will be a threat and in what could be a game with a few goals in it, the forward is a great pick to get on the scoresheet.
Pic: © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK