Morocco eyeing Iran scalp for good start in World Cup

Morocco eyeing Iran scalp for good start in World Cup
Morocco's players attend a training session in St.Petersburg, Russia

by Phumzile Ngcatshe

Friday Jun 15, 2018. 09:30

Morocco are targeting a victory against Iran as they hope to cause an upset at the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday afternoon.

Under the guidance of coach Herve Renard the team will be looking to make a statement as the French manager makes his debut at the global showpiece.

The North Africans will bank on their fine run in the qualifiers where they conceded once in their eight games.

With defender Nabil Dirar racing against time to regain fitness, Renard will breathe a sigh of relief as the player is set to be available for the clash after missing friendlies against Slovakia and Estonia because of a calf injury.

The Atlas Lions will bank on players such as skipper and defender Medhi Benatia, defender Achraf Hakimi and midfielder Romain Saiss to inspire the side to glory.

Although they have failed to win the bid to host the 2026 tournament, Morocco have reached their fifth World Cup, their first since 1998.

However, they are yet to progress beyond the Last 16 after being eliminated in the group stages three times in their four previous appearances.

"We have a coach who will play his fourth World Cup," Renard said.

"I'm here for the first time, I'm a beginner. But we are not here to take pictures of the monuments in St Petersburg.

“We are here to compete. Mr Queiroz is always full of surprises, but since the draw we have given a lot of thought to the Iran team."

Shifting focus to Iran, coach Carlos Queiroz will be without suspended defensive midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi, striker Mehdi Taremi and midfielder Askhan Dejagah.

Queiroz and his men face a daunting task as they are against Morocco, Portugal and Spain in the same group.

However, the experienced coach will pin his hopes on striker Sardar Azmoun who has 23 goals in 33 international appearances.

This will be the first meeting between the two nations at the global tournament, but they have played each other only once previously in a game which ended in a draw.

The match will be stage at on Friday afternoon at St. Petersburg Stadium, kick-off is at 17:00 (CAT).

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