Morocco beat Brazil 2-1 this Saturday in a friendly match in Tangier, in which the five-time champions suffered the loss of the injured Neymar.
Midfielders Sofiane Boufal (29) and Abdelhamid Sabiri (79) gave the Africans victory against five-time champions with many new faces, and for the first time in almost seven years they did not have Tite on the bench.
After failing in the World Cup, where Croatia eliminated them in the quarterfinals, the coach left the team and the U-20 coach, Ramon Menezes, took over on an interim basis.
Captain Casemiro (67) partially equalized with a shot from outside the area with the complicity of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, a great figure for the North Africans in Qatar.
Casemiro, without mincing words after the defeat
“I wouldn’t say we lacked understanding, but (practice) the idea of the new coach. I think we played a good game and did everything we could to win, as far as possible,” he told the Band channel.
In the packed Ibn Batouta stadium in the Moroccan city, before the ball started rolling, both teams paid tribute to “king” Pelé, who died last December at the age of 82.
At the beginning, Brazil was pressured by the ‘Atlas Lions’, protagonists of the best performance of an African team in a World Cup. Although the South Americans, also without the injured Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Richarlison, soon stripped them of possession, Walid Regragui’s men did not relinquish that card until they were rewarded.
(It may interest you: Brazilian player drops the ‘bomb’: Ancelotti, the DT of the five-time champions?)
Around half an hour into the game, three Moroccans put pressure on right-back Emerson Royal at the start, took the ball from him and entered the box. Bilal El Khannouss gave the ball to Boufal, who spun to dislodge Casemiro and shot with his right foot into an impossible angle for goalkeeper Weverton, one of the ten called up for this game who were in Qatar.
The advantage thrilled Morocco, which in the minutes before the goal suffered from the partnership that Vinicius Jr and Lucas Paquetá formed in the area of Achraf Hakimi, the PSG right-back who is accused of rape in France.
With a missing Rodrygo, called to replace Neymar, the attack fell on ‘Vini’, involved in the best visitor options: a one-on-one from Rony (13), another rookie, and collective pressure that forced ‘Bono’ ( 24) to leave the goal empty, although the goalkeeper managed to compose himself.
Rodrygo seemed to wake up at the start of the second half (47) by demanding the goalkeeper to the maximum with a volley. But the advantage allowed Morocco to play as it shines: defending and counterattacking.
With thirty minutes to go, Menezes and Regragui removed the bench, without making any major changes, except for a short interruption (72) due to a problem in the lighting of the stadium and a no lesser detail: Bounou’s blunder. Accustomed to being the hero, the Sevilla (ESP) goalkeeper slipped a shot from Casemiro under his body.
But Sabiri, after a bad start from the Brazilian defense, saved it with a right foot that hit the crossbar and crossed the line.
Morocco will now face Peru in a friendly on Tuesday in Madrid, while the ‘Seleção’ will focus on finding Tite’s replacement. The Italian Carlo Ancelotti, according to the local press, is the main candidate.
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