Morocco qualifies for World Cup, Ivory Coast misses out
Nov 12, 2017, 01:10
Tunisia and Morocco completed CAF's line up at the FIFA World Cup™, securing the last of Africa's berths at Russian Federation 2018.
Nabil Dirar scored the first goal and Mehdi Benatia added a second one five minutes later.
Nigeria, Senegal and Egypt had previously sealed their spots in Russian Federation next year.
The Atlas Lions went into the match in Abidjan just needing a draw to consolidate their place as pacesetters in the final group match, but they went one better in what was an assured display.
Morocco returns to the world's biggest stage for the first time since 1998.
That result eliminated the Ivorians from the tournament in Russian Federation in 2018, while Tunisia also qualified at the expense of DR Congo.
The Ivorians continued to pressurise the visitors with 10 minutes to play but they lacked the sense of urgency for a team that needed three goals in the remaining minutes to qualify. Tunisia qualified for the World Cup after winning the group with 14 points.
Morocco ran down the clock with tactical substitutions in the closing minutes as Renard master-minded the downfall of his former employers, who he helped win the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. Before today's matches, Morocco had 9 points while the Ivorians had 8 points; meaning the victor of the match would qualify.
Dirar gave his side the lead in the 25 minute when a cross-cum-shot from the Fenerbahçe winger eluded Ivory Coast keeper Sylvain Gbohouo.
Morocco was topping its group before flying to Ivory Coast. The failure to reach the World Cup after being ever-present since 2006 will put pressure on coach Marc Wilmots. The Tunisians held on for the draw, though, and it turned out to be a precious point. Had Tunisia lost, the two teams would have finished level on points and goal difference and Congo would have taken the World Cup place for scoring more goals in the qualifying campaign.
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