With a new-looking squad and an AFCON spot already secured, the Atlas Lions only managed a draw at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
Hervé Renard brought a bunch of new players on the plane to Malawi, as Morocco were already qualified for the final tournament. Key assets like Mehdi Benatia, Achraf Hakimi and Youssef En-Nesyri stayed home, while Oussama Idrissi, Yunis Abdelhamid and Mehdi Bourabia were given an opportunity to shine.
The heavy rainfall and bumpy surface didn’t make things easy and despite seeing loads of the ball, we never managed to fully cut through the hosts’ defense. Zakaria Hadraf had a couple of good opportunities, while Rachid Alioui hammered a free-kick in the post – but aside from that there were not much to report of.
Munir Mohand (6)
Can barely remember him touching the ball. Had one dangerous shot from distance where the ball was bouncing right in front of him, but held it convincingly.
Oualid El Hajjam (5)
Still way too inconsistent, but this time we saw more from him offensively. Always overlapping behind Hadraf and giving the midfield and centre-backs an option out wide.
Badr Benoun (6)
A solid game for Benoun in his first official start for the senior national team. Didn’t have too many challenges, but was in control whenever called upon.
Yunis Abdelhamid (7)
Despite all the praise he’s been getting, I was caught by surprise to see how good he is, especially on the ball. Showed his experience, always knowing when to play from behind and when to clear it. A positive international comeback for the Reims defender.
Abdelkarim Baadi (6)
He had barely worn the Moroccan national team kit before he was sent into the line-up against Malawi, yet Baadi delivered instantly. His energy and pace helps him out a lot at times when he’s caught out of position and he seemed to create a decent partnership with Idrissi on the left. Unfortunately had to come off with an injury towards the end after a bad tackle. But this will definitely not be the last we see from the HUSA full-back.
Youssef Aït Bennasser (6)
In the absence of our most important players, Aït Bennasser took charge as one of the leaders on the pitch. Instructed his teammates, battled with opponents and took control of the midfield. Would’ve liked to see him play more forward passes, but his presence in the middle is still heavily undervalued. Has been developing very well over the last few months.
Mehdi Bourabia (7 MOTM)
In his first ever start for the national team, Bourabia impressed massively as a holding midfielder. Dynamic, energetic and composed on the ball. Won loads of challenges and barely lost possession. One of few players who put in a great application for an AFCON spot.
Zakaria Hadraf (5)
Looked lively at times and always wants the ball, but his decision-making is not good enough. Too often he’s choosing the most difficult option instead of playing the ball where there’s space. Missed two big opportunities in the first half.
Abdelilah Hafidi (4)
Disappointing display from the Raja maestro. Started in his favorite position behind the striker, but was not able to impose himself like he was against Tunisia in November. Earned a couple of free-kicks, but spent most of the time running around without the ball. Taken off with 25 minutes to go.
Oussama Idrissi (6)
On a difficult pitch he had trouble with finding his feet at times, but there’s no doubt that Idrissi will be a huge asset to the Atlas Lions. Created our two biggest chances in the first half and had a dangerous shot after the break when cutting inside. Spent ten minutes limping around the field after a knock and faded out of the game towards the end, but a decent debut.
Ayoub El Kaabi (3)
Another disappointing performance from the CHAN hero. Seems to have lost all confidence ever since the horror-show against Iran, both on and off the ball. Barely involved and lacks understanding with his fellow offensive colleagues. Lucky to last the whole 90 minutes.
Ismail El Haddad (6)
A good 30 minutes from the Wydad attacker. Came in with loads of energy and gave the Malawi defense something to think about with his direct style of play. Fired a good shot with his left foot which was parried by the goalkeeper.
Rachid Alioui (5)
Came on with 25 minutes to go as a second striker next to El Kaabi. Didn’t manage to get himself involved in possession but those free-kicks! Two hit the woodwork and one went just over the bar from distance. Deserved to win us the game.
Fouad Chafik (N/A)
Replaced Baadi towards the end, but didn’t play enough to warrant a rating.