Published: Sun, November 12, 2017
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Defenders book Morocco's place at World Cup

Defenders book Morocco's place at World Cup

Morocco sealed its place by winning in Ivory Coast 2-0 in what was a straight shootout for the place from Group C. The Moroccans are going to their first World Cup since 1998 after denying Ivory Coast a fourth straight appearance.

Morocco scored twice in five minutes during the first half to defeat the Ivory Coast 2-0 Saturday and qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

Nabil Dirar gave Morocco the lead on 25 minutes, delivering a cross that Khalid Boutaib came close to heading, but the ball ended up finding the back of the net.

Morocco, who completed their qualifying campaign with maximum points and no goals conceded, last appeared in a World Cup in 1998 in France.

It is another achievement for Morocco's French coach Herve Renard, who famously won the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast in 2015.

Any hopes they had of overhauling the North Africans were all but extinguished in five minutes of first-half madness from goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo, who struggled behind an unfamiliar defensive pairing of Simon Deli and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.

It was unspectacular, but they got the job done and ultimately progressed with a one-point buffer after a late flurry helped DR Congo beat Guinea 3-1 in the group's other match.

Morocco and Tunisia now join Nigeria, Senegal and Egypt as Africa's representatives at next year's FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation.

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. Needing just a point at home to already-eliminated Libya to assure their progression, they labored to a goalless draw.

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