By Morocco World News -
Although the match at Tunisia’s Stade Olympique de Rades was a friendly, it counted a lot in terms of team morale and quality assessment, especially as the two African giants are preparing for sterner challenges on the continental stage.
Emerging from a draining week of CAN qualifiers, both teams are in the process of putting in place competitive squads to represent them at Africa’s foremost football tournament in June 2019 in Cameroon.
On a chilly night of intermittently tantalizing football between the two North African country, Morocco’s Youssef En-Nesyri scored the evening’s only goal at the 41st minute of the game.
There was energy and desire in the remaining minutes of the game. There was depth, though occasionally. Most of all, perhaps, there was, from both teams, a constant need to make a strong statement of quality, even superiority.
While Morocco wanted to break the curse of Rades (where they had never won before), Tunisia, ranked above Morocco in FIFA rankings, had no desire to relinquish its on-paper superiority.
There may have been no qualifying spot at stake, no trophy to win. But what was at stake looked great enough, big enough, worth fighting for: pride.
Morocco’s Atlas Lions played to break from the psychological weight of never winning at Rades, an aspiration which Tunisia’s Eagles were determined to smash.
Medhi Benatia and Romain Saiss showed a solid rock-solid defence and kept Tunisia at bay. A few minutes before the break, it was the captain, Benatia, who fired a shot from far away after Abdelilah Hafidi was fouled in the middle of half of the opponents’ area. Youssef En-Nesyri, aware of the rebound, scored his sixth international goal.
Morocco, deploying a cautious 4-4-2 tactical disposition in the second half, foiled the Tunisian team’s regained energy. And despite repeated pressure from Tunisia’s Eagles, Morocco’s Lions seemed comfortable in their 1-0 lead.
Tunisia’s striker Wahbi Khazri and defender Nordin Amrabat of Morocco received one yellow card each.
Renard’s men struggled to find their feet at the start of the game and Tunisia did well to push them high up on the pitch.
And so, Morocco, who had also won its latest game, a much urgent qualifier game against Cameroon, succeeded in maintaining its invincibility against Tunisia.
If anything, the past few days have been enormously rapturous for Atlas Lions and their fans. After breaking the curse of never beating Cameroon, they’ve just broken that of never beating Tunisia in Rades. Perhaps, after all, that’s what Renard-coached teams do: they reduce the domains of implausibility.
For all the criticism that Renard and his boys have received after their early World Cup exit and the immediate lacklustre displays that followed, Morocco’s team seems to have found its way back to a beautiful and confident football.
(Africanfootball.com) Morocco edged Tunisia 1-0 in an international friendly played at the Olympic Stadium in Rades on Tuesday night.
The Atlas Lions backed up their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying win over Cameroon last Friday with a victory in this regional derby, while the Carthage Eagles suffered a second straight loss to a fellow North Africa after their 3-2 defeat in Egypt.
Morocco opened the scoring late in the first half, with Mehdi Benatia’s low shot from a short free kick saved by goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha, but Youssef En Nesyri was on hand to turn home the rebound in the 41st minute.
Tunisia had earlier dominated possession and tried to press high whenever they didn’t have the ball, but they were unable to create any clear chances to test out Atlas Lions gloves-man Monir El Kajoui.
Sofiane Boufal nearly added to Morocco’s advantage just before the hour mark, slipping past a couple of challenges before sending a shot narrowly wide of the target.
In general the second half followed the same pattern as the first, with the Carthage Eagles dictating the pace, but the Atlas Lions looked more threatening in attack.
The hosts looked to boost their hopes with several introductions from the subs bench, but continued to lack a cutting edge in the final third.
Late in the game Tunisia almost claimed an equaliser but substitute Mohamed Drager, when presented with a clear chance in front of goal, was unable to hit the target, leaving Morocco to claim victory.
Both teams will return to action next March when they wrap up their 2019 AFCON qualification campaigns: Morocco will be away to Malawi, while Tunisia host eSwatini.
Morocco (1) 1 (En Nesyri 41’)
Tunisia: Ben Mustapha, Nagguez (Mathlouthi 90+1’), Skhiri (Bedoui 73’), Sassi (Chaouat 65’), Haddadi, Ben Amor (Karoui 90+1’), Meriah, Khaoui (Srarfi 57’), Ben Yousseff, Khazri, Sliti (Drager 79’)
Morocco: El Kajoui, Dirar (Hakimi 69’), Benatia (Da Costa 46’), Amrabat (Mazraoui 86’), Fajr, Ait Bennasser, El Hajjam, Hafidi (Azaro 46’), Boufal (El Ahmadi 89’), Saiss, En Nesyri
4 minutes of additional time!
88' Karim El Ahmadi replaced Soufiane Boufal
86' Noussair Mazraoui replaced Nordin Amrabat
68' Achraf Hakimi replaced Nabil Dirar
Oualid Azarou replaced Abdelilah Hafidi and Marouane Da Costa replaced Mehdi Benatia
Second half underway!
41' Goooaaaalll Morocco score 0-1 against Tunisia, goal by Youssef En-Nesiry
Tunisia Vs Morocco
Kickoff: 18h00 (GMT+1)
Location: Rades, Tunisia
Morocco starting line up vs Tunisia:
Munir El Kajoui-Benatia (C)-Dirar-El Hajjam-Fajr-Ait Bennasser-ِAmrabat-Hafidi-Saiss-En-Nesyri-Boufal
Broadcasting channels: Arryadia, Al-Oula, Wattania, Al-Kas, Foxsports NL 4
Live streaming video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ivf9p5BtjC0