Herve Renard, coach of Morocco and players celebrates a victory during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between Morocco and Ivory Coast at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 24 January 2017 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Friday Dec 01, 2017. 12:00
Ahead of tomorrow’s draw for the 2018 World Cup, AfricanFootball looks at both the best and worst case group stage scenarios for Morocco’s Atlas Lions.
Which pot are Morocco in?
The North Africans are in Pot 4 because their world ranking in October (48) put them amongst the eight lowest-rated teams to qualify for Russia 2018.
Which teams can they be drawn against?
- One of the teams in Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France
- One of the teams in Pot 2: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Croatia
- One of the following teams in Pot 3: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Iran
Which teams can they not be drawn against?
All of the other teams in Pot 4 - Nigeria, Serbia, Australia, Japan, Panama, South Korea and Saudi Arabia - as well as the three Africans teams in Pot 3: Tunisia, Egypt and Senegal.
What’s their best-case scenario?
From Pot 1, Morocco will want to draw Russia. The 2018 hosts are easily the weakest team in that pool. Short of getting the home side, Belgium and Poland are probably a touch overrated and have traditionally struggled at big tournaments.
From Pot 2 they’ll want to draw Peru, who haven’t been to the World Cup since 1982, or one of England, Switzerland or Croatia - they’re all fine teams, but not as powerful and dangerous as the likes of Spain, Uruguay and Mexico.
From Pot 3 the Atlas Lions will want to draw Iceland, who are making their tournament debut and have overachieved just by qualifying. But in truth, none of the other teams from Pot 3 are particularly strong.
Summary: Morocco’s dream group stage draw would see them pooled with Russia, Peru and Iceland.
And their worst?
It couldn’t get much worse than drawing reigning world champions Germany from Pot 1, 2010 winners Spain from Pot 2 and then Costa Rica from Pot 3 (because you can only have two European teams in a group).
Or how about Brazil from Pot 1, Spain from Pot 2 and Denmark from Pot 3? Either way, that’s about as bad as it can get for Morocco.
Summary: Germany, Spain and Costa Rica, or Brazil, Spain and Denmark - either would represent the worst case for the Atlas Lions.