Monday, May 20, 2024
HomeSportsAnalysis | How can Canada get its first World Cup points? Make...

Analysis | How can Canada get its first World Cup points? Make the most of Morocco’s nervous moments

DOHA, Qatar—Clearly, there is no such thing as a dead rubber in John Herdman’s world. “Tomorrow is a real opportunity for our players and our country to keep stepping forward,” the Canada manager said in a focused and passionate appearance on the eve of Canada’s final outing in Qatar on Thursday.

It is opponent Morocco that has the most at stake at Al Thumama Stadiu. The Africans are one point clear of the disappointing Belgians for Group F’s second place and a spot in the knockout stages.

Canada will be coming home once the lights go out but Herdman is desperately seeking another slice of history before they do. A first Canadian World Cup goal is on the board. Now the focus is either a point or a win. He and his players are adamant that they can, and will, deliver. Here’s how they can …

First thing’s first

While it is sometimes a habit of eliminated teams, Herdman will not be handing out World Cup appearances to his supporting cast just for the sake of it. He is very much treating this as a contest on which much hinges. Morocco has confound both Croatia and, most stunningly, Belgium to reach the brink of progress. But Canada matches up well with the Africans in some key ways.

The primary threat

All of the danger courses down the right for Morocco. Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi is arguably the best right back in the game. In front of him Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech is revitalized, having returned to the national team after falling out with the previous manager. Herdman is likely tempted to reward left back Sam Adekugbe with a start after keeping him in reserve for the first two games. Adekugbe and Alphonso Davies have formed a dynamic pairing on the Canadian left in qualifying but Thursday’s task would involve a lot more concentration and tracking. Ziyech’s dead-ball deliveries are another thing to worry about.

The hidden dangers

With all of the concentration on the right side, Morocco is not shorn of talent on the other side. Davies’ Bayern Munich teammate Noussair Mazraoui converts to left back for national duty with little issue, in spite of being right-footed. Ahead of him is Sofiane Boufal who, while not at his early-20s peak, is still a wily operator. At Premier League Southampton from 2016-20, Boufal seemed to pop up with a goal-of-the-season contender every year.

The weaknesses to exploit

The Moroccans have seen two teams that just required a draw to progress — Iran and Ecuador — come unstuck. They are surely going to be intent on keeping things tight early, in spite of manager Walid Regragui’s assurance on the eve of battle that “we will have the same plan as we always have — to win.” Morocco won’t press as much as the Croats or Belgians so Canada will likely have that little bit more time on the ball to catch a breath and create. As both Moroccan fullbacks bomb forward, they do leave gaps in behind and Canada has found some success on the break during qualifying.

Route to victory

Make the Moroccans nervous, plain and simple. Herdman spoke emotively Wednesday about a desperation to create more history by putting those first Canadian men’s World Cup points on the board. But Morocco has history in its hands, too. For the first time in 36 years, it has the knockout stage right there on the horizon. All of which creates tension. Before getting here, Canada showed a great knack of sensing opponents’ nervy moments and pouncing. While that is obviously not so simple in rarefied World Cup air, Thursday offers a great opportunity to make it happen. Early crosses in behind could cause havoc — much like Tajon Buchanan’s delivery did against Croatia last time.

We’re a broken record on this but nailing set-piece deliveries would also give Canada another edge though the air.

Predicted lineups

Canada (4-3-3): Borjan (C); Johnston, Vitoria, Miller, Adekugbe; Hoilett, Kone, Osorio; Buchanan, David, Davies

Morocco (4-3-3): Bono; Hakimi, Aguerd, Saiss (C), Mazraoui; Ounahi, Amrabat, Ramallah; Ziyech, En-Nesyri, Boufal.


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments