Morocco retire Belgium and look to Qatar World Cup last 16

Saiss and Aboukhlal scored the goals and a draw against Canada would see them through to the last 16

PHOTO/AFP  -   Match between Morocco and Belgium in the World Cup in Qatar

The predictions that Morocco were destined to do well at the World Cup in Qatar have not failed. After a 0-0 draw against Croatia, Regragui's side beat Belgium at the Al Thumama stadium in Doha and are now a step closer to a place in the last 16 of the World Cup.  

The match started with a major scare for the large Moroccan colony living in Qatar and attending the match. Goalkeeper Bono had to give way to Munir El Kajoui. He did so just after the anthem with visible signs of physical problems.  

The goalkeeper himself explained afterwards that he had been injured against Croatia and had forced himself to play against Belgium, but that constant dizziness made it impossible for him to start. "The referee told me I could leave after the anthem and it didn't count as a change," said the Sevilla goalkeeper.  

The game started with a great chance from Michy Batshuayi that Munir saved, giving him confidence ahead of a big game with a capacity crowd of 43,738.  

Eden Hazard is having no luck in Qatar either and his quality is definitely fading. His runs down the flank, dribbles and combinations with other teammates do not unbalance the opposing defences.  

Achraf Hakimi is the most quality player in Morocco, although his position as a right-back does not contribute much to the attack. At the end of the first half a header from a free kick put the first goal on the scoreboard which was disallowed by the VAR for offside.  

That foul was the warning of the Moroccan goal that would come in the second half. Belgium began to unravel and Courtois again saved the furniture for his country against the arrivals of Ziyech and the danger of Boufal up front.  

De Bruyne warned in The Guardian: "We no longer have a chance of winning, we are too old". With that attitude, Belgium combined well, but did not create danger. Mertens replaced Hazard, but he also failed to find the net against an inspired Munir.  

Regragui was giving minutes to other players. He dared to make many changes before the goal. Attiat-Allal, Sabiri, Aboukhlal and Hamdallah came on, just two minutes before Saiss scored a great goal with a free-kick from a free-kick that Courtois could do nothing about.  

Madness broke out at the Al Thumama stadium and it didn't stop as Belgium failed to rely on Lukaku to deliver balls into the box. The Inter giant hardly had any chances and it was Morocco who made it 2-0 thanks to Aboukhlal who took advantage of Sabiri's pass in the 92nd minute.  

"We haven't won anything yet today. Obviously I want to be happy with this win, but we have to bounce back," said coach Walid Regragui. 

The Atlas Lions' next match will be against Canada who are already eliminated from the tournament. If they win and so does Croatia, it would be on aggregate goal difference that would dictate first place.  

In any case, Morocco have a chance to play Spain in the Round of 16 if the first and second places in their respective groups are altered. The matches would take place on Monday 5 or Tuesday 6 at 16:00.