Canada unable to achieve desired result in Qatar exits Men’s World Cup with loss to Morocco Pipa News

Canada unable to achieve desired result in Qatar exits Men’s World Cup with loss to Morocco

Another incomplete performance from Canada at the World Cup. But also a smashing late wave that fell just short in a 2-1 defeat against a talented Moroccan team.

As with the two previous tournament losses, there were some moments to savor and others to forget. The Canadian men go home wiser and with some more fans, if not won, after a 36-year absence from the football showcase.

“It’s the first time we’ve been here in a long time,” said Canadian coach John Herdman. “We would have liked to be here longer, that’s for sure. But we enjoyed the ride.”

There were bumps along the way in a rough and loud Al Thumama stadium on Thursday. And the Canadians will be disappointed in the way they fell behind.

Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri scored for No. 22 Morocco, who took advantage of abysmal Canadian defense to lead 2-0 after 23 minutes. Canada conceded an own goal from Nayef Aguerd to narrow the margin to 2–1 at halftime.

The Canadians in 41st gave the ball away at will and were second best to the speedy, opportunistic Atlas Lions, whose counterattack rocked Canada in the first half.

Herdman switched the field from no jacket to Canada tracksuit to suit jacket as he tried to find a winning combination on and off the field. But there was little flow in the Canadian attack until he began to switch on the hour.

That led to a wave of pressure in Canada, with Morocco barely holding out. The Canadians came oh so close in the 71st minute when substitute Atiba Hutchinson’s header from a corner hit the crossbar and bounced to the ground untouched, but didn’t quite cross the goal line.

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Hutchinson, in his 101st appearance for Canada, held his head in disbelief as Moroccan fans exhaled behind the goal.

Born in Montreal but raised in Morocco, Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou nearly lost his grip on the ball in the 87th minute, but held on to avoid disaster and the Atlas Lions survived four minutes of stoppage time — with Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan coming in for a corner as fans roared their way.

The Canadians finish the tournament with zero points, having previously lost 1-0 to No. 2 Belgium and 4-1 to No. 12 Croatia.

And while the Canadians earned kudos for their performance against Belgium and Alphonso Davies scored Canada’s first-ever goal in the men’s tournament in Croatia, Canada has now lost its first six World Cup matches – the third team in tournament history to do so after Mexico (which lost its first nine appearances) and El Salvador (six).

Canada’s Sam Adekugbe (left) and Alphonso Davies (right) celebrate after an own goal from Nayef Aguerd cut Morocco’s lead to 2-1 before the break. (Getty Images)

Canada also went 0-3-0 in Mexico in 1986, losing 1-0 to France and 2-0 to both Hungary and the Soviet Union.

For the Canadian men, the runway now begins for a home World Cup with Canada, Mexico and the US co-hosting an expanded 48-team tournament in 2026.

The Moroccans still have some football to play here, flooding the pitch at the final whistle, having secured their place at the top of Group F and a spot in the round of 16.

Croatia also advanced after a 0-0 draw with Belgium in the other match in Group F, which started at the same time 25 kilometers to the northwest at the Ahmad Bin Ali stadium in Al Rayyan.

Morocco (2-0-1, seven points) won the group with two points ahead of Croatia (1-0-2). Coach Roberto Martinez announced he was retiring after Belgium (1-1-1, four points) finished third and failed to advance.

For the first time at the tournament, the loud and proud Canadian fans met their match in the Moroccan supporters.

Fans from both countries turned up the volume from the start, creating a pulsating atmosphere. Attendance was announced at 43102.

Aguerd and Ziyech celebrate Morocco’s victory over Canada. (Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Morocco started with a run of 16 passes from kick-off, resulting in a cross through the Canadian penalty area. Then things got worse for Canada.

After scoring the final timeout in the game against Croatia in 68 seconds, this time it was Canada that had the disastrous start after defender Steven Vitoria made a failed back pass attempt in the fourth minute.

Borjan came out of his penalty area as En-Nesyri steamed towards him. But instead of getting the ball to safety, Borjan seemed to be in two minds: pass or clear. Instead, the ball darted straight to Ziyech, who fired it into goal from distance as Borjan desperately tried to race back to his goal line.

Canada fans react after a goal in Morocco. (Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

Borjan put his hands on his hips and turned away in disgust as FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave a bewildered smile from his box.

“I think that first goal scared us,” said Herdman. “Just a hard moment to take so early. You feel the intensity of the environment. The blood was boiling out. You really felt their intensity.”

En-Nesyri doubled their lead in the 23rd minute after a long ball from Paris Saint-Germain fullback Achraf Hakimi split the Canadian defence. The Sevilla striker was quicker than Vitoria and Kamal Miller, controlling the ball with his left foot and beating a diving Borjan under the arm with a low shot from his right.

“We fought for a while,” Herdman said. “I think we were on the strings for periods in the first 20 minutes, but we came back, we adapted. I think we showed that resilience to get through that difficult moment. And we flexed, but we didn’t break . We persevered.”

Borjan reacts after Morocco’s first goal. (Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Sam Adekugbe threw Canada a lifeline in the 40th minute, beating a defender down the left flank and firing a ball on target which ricocheted off Aguerd’s outstretched foot past Bounou.

Morocco leveled Croatia 0-0 before upsetting Belgium 2-0 and went into Thursday’s game knowing a win or a draw would allow them to go through.

Herdman made four changes to his starting eleven, revamping his midfield with Adekugbe, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Jonathan Osorio and Junior Hoilett replacing Hutchinson, Stephen Eustaquio, Richie Laryea and Jonathan David.

Eustaquio (hamstring) was injured before the game. Borjan captained Canada during Hutchinson’s absence.

Herdman put in Hutchinson, David and Ismael Kone in the 60th minute to kick off the comeback. Laryea followed five minutes later and David Wotherspoon entered the game in the 76th.

Morocco had seven tries on goal against Canada’s five, and shot on target twice and scored on both, compared to none for the Canadians, who had six corners against Morocco’s two.

Morocco improved to 4-9-6 all-time at the World Cup and advanced to the knockout round for the second time.

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