Morocco lost the World Cup opener to Iran after a late own-goal. Who stepped up and who disappointed heavily?
In a game of few big opportunities, Morocco grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of chances they created in the last third. Besides a huge one from a set-piece in the 1st half, we barely tested their goalkeeper, Alireza Beiranvand. Mbark Boussoufa and Hakim Ziyech were effectively taken out of the game and we struggled to give Ayoub El Kaabi anything to work with up top. It didn’t help that Nordin Amrabat had to be forced off with a concussion, as we lost that little bit of experience towards the end.
Munir Mohand (6)
I’ve been one of Munir’s biggest critics, but have to give him credit. The double-save in the first half was nothing short of spectacular. He also did better than usual on defensive set-pieces and couldn’t do much about the goal.
Nordin Amrabat (5)
In a new role, he kept his side under control for most of the game and got himself involved offensively. If his crosses were better, we could have had some great chances. Might have played his first and last World Cup game after that concussion.
Medhi Benatia (4)
One of those days for the captain. Ruthless in the challenges, but makes some silly free-kicks and still needs to work on his timing. Also disappointing to see him refuse talking to the media after the game.
Ghanem Saïss (6)
Our best player in the back-four. He has grown so much in the centre-back role over the last couple of years and has actually been more consistent than Benatia since the beginning of qualification in my opinion. Played a good game.
Achraf Hakimi (3)
This game really reminded us that Hakimi is still only 19 years of age. To his defense, he played on the “wrong” side, but you can’t excuse the several times he got dispossessed when we had everyone going forward, creating Iran’s biggest opportunities of the game. Didn’t look comfortable with having to move inside constantly when attacking and was caught out of position at times defensively.
Mbark Boussoufa (3)
One of his worst games internationally in a long time. It was clear that Carlos Queiroz had instructed his players to take Boussoufa out of the game and they did so with great success. You could see his frustration with not getting the ball as much as usual, even giving it away sloppily a couple of the times he actually got involved.
Karim El Ahmadi (5)
Saw a lot more of the ball and did well to retain possession. One of our best players on the day.
Hakim Ziyech (2)
Completely invisible. Effectively taken out of the game by Iran and ended up coming deeper and deeper to get the ball, leaving us with few alternatives higher up the pitch. Probably the biggest disappointment from a Moroccan point of view, considering the huge expectations put on his shoulders.
Younès Belhanda (5)
Looks a lot more confident now, after some good performances in the preparatory friendlies. He, just like Ziyech, ended up coming too deep to get the ball at times, but seemed to have that little bit of fire in him which we lacked offensively.
Amine Harit (6 MOTM)
Ended up running with the ball for too long at times, but at 20 years of age, it’s impressive to see how much he’s able to create on his own. Constantly had someone in his back, but still managed to turn and set-up his teammates. Almost got a goal too, with a dangerous finish in the first half.
Ayoub El Kaabi (3)
A player almost forced in by the public (including myself) after his goalscoring record with RS Berkane and the local national team. Against Iran, he looked lost. To be fair to him, he was never a striker able to create plenty on his own, and didn’t get much to work with in the box. But it felt like the occasion was a bit too big for him. Not sure if he’ll be in the starting line-up against Portugal.
Sofyan Amrabat (3)
Another young player who seemed to be too affected by the pressure, especially when coming on in a role he’s not playing regularly. Didn’t give us anything offensively and conceded some dangerous free-kicks, one that ultimately led to the goal.
Aziz Bouhaddouz (3)
Wasn’t able to give us something different from El Kaabi and mostly ended up chasing the ball with little success. Unlucky (and clumsy) on the own-goal.
Manuel Da Costa (N/A)
Came on with few minutes to go and didn’t have time to get involved.