Maghrib Foot evaluates the players after a disappoining display against the Comoros in AFCON qualifiers.
On the third matchday of the AFCON 2019 qualifiers, Morocco hosted Comoros for their second consecutive home-game. After a convincing 3-0 win against Malawi last month, most people were expecting at least a similar performance when one of the youngest nations in Africa were visiting.
However, the Atlas Lions showed little to none of energy, tempo and urgency against a compact defense. Without the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Amine Harit and Younès Belhanda, the lack of creativity proved evident with a lot of athletic, but clumsy players up front.
A 97th minute penalty by Fayçal Fajr ended up separating the two sides in an underwhelming game overall by the Moroccans. Without further ado, here is my player ratings (1-10):
Yassine Bounou (6)
A good game by the Girona goalkeeper, stopping the few shots he faced. The 1v1 save in the second half was crucial. Solid as always with the ball at his feet.
Nabil Dirar (3)
You could tell that he’s struggling with a lack of match fitness. Had some decent involvements offensively, but was far too hesitant on the ball and struggled to contain Selemani on his side, almost making a penalty with a late tackle. Expectedly taken off at half-time.
Manuel Da Costa (4)
Despite a positive start to the season in Turkey, Da Costa just doesn’t seem to perform with the national team. Struggled in possession, with several long-passes going out of play and was caught sleeping at times when Comoros came on the counter. Only Moroccan player with a yellow card.
Romain Saïss (6)
Not his best game, but the calm presence of Saïss is still important to this team. Like Da Costa, he also had some poor passes, but the few times we managed to penetrate their defense, it was through him. Taking into account that he’s barely played for Wolves this season, this was an encouraging performance by the 28-year-old, showing that he’s ready for a potential AFCON next year.
Achraf Hakimi (7 MOTM)
Anonymous on the left, but once he finally got to play on the preferred right side, he stood out. Looks more solid than ever defensively and put in some dangerous crosses. Topped it off with earning the penalty when he was tripped inside the box.
Karim El Ahmadi (5)
“Mr. Reliable” with a decent performance, but nothing more. Helps out in defense and dishes out the ball to more competent players offensively. Nothing spectacular, but solid, just like you’d expect of El Ahmadi.
Mbark Boussoufa (4)
Much like Dirar, Boussoufa is really suffering from a lack of match-fitness. The fact is that this was his first game since Morocco played Spain in Kaliningrad, which really puts things into perspective. Always wants the ball, but more sloppy than we’re used to see from the experienced playmaker. Taken off with 20 minutes to go.
Fayçal Fajr (7)
The joker looks like he’s here to stay. Has taken the great form with his club into the national team and looks more confident than ever. Still not effective enough, but a reliable player to have in the middle of the park. Deservedly scored the game-winning goal from the penalty-spot.
Nordin Amrabat (4)
Disappointing display from Morocco’s best player in the World Cup. Grew increasingly frustrated as the game went on and struggled to make any real impact. You can’t question his desire, but this was not his night.
Youssef En-Nesyri (4)
A poor game by En-Nesyri, but what can you expect when he’s everywhere but in the box? Ran tirelessly but when not playing up top he’s just too ineffective.
Khalid Boutaïb (2)
Scored some important goals over the last year, but aside from that, what has Boutaïb really done to defend a spot in this team? No threat in behind, no ability on the ball and when he’s not even using his strength, there’s really not much to shout about. Brought off at half-time.
Hamza Mendyl (4)
Mendyl will always bring you loads of energy, but needs to work a lot on how to use it properly. Runs up and down like a headless chicken without any real intention. Back to the training ground!
Ayoub El Kaabi (2)
Seems to have lost all his confidence after a disappointing World Cup. Playing out on the wing definitely didn’t help, but he barely succeeded with a single touch. Made some stupid fouls as well, much to the frustration of Renard. The China move really hasn’t worked out in any way but economically so far.
Walid Azaro (5)
Despite an awful pass which ruined a great chance, as well as a weak header, Azaro’s energetic presence was much needed. Played the pass to Hakimi in the penalty situation and should be fairly happy with his 20-minute appearance.