Morocco defeated Colombia 1-0 in a thrilling match at the Women’s World Cup, propelling themselves into the round of 16. Morocco became the third African country, after South Africa and Nigeria, to advance past the group stage thanks to Anissa Lahmari’s crucial goal. Their remarkable journey has defied expectations while demonstrating the growing strength of African women’s football.
The North African team had a difficult start to the tournament, falling to pre-tournament favourites Germany 6-0 in their opening match. They showed tenacity and determination, however, rebounding with consecutive 1-0 victories over South Korea and Colombia, the latter topping their group.
Coach Reynald Pedros was instrumental in motivating the team following the devastating loss to Germany, urging them to remain calm and promising improvement. Morocco’s progress to the knockout rounds was also aided by Germany’s surprise 1-1 draw with South Korea in their final group match.
Africa put on a spectacular World Cup performance, outperforming expectations by securing more representation in the knockout stages than expected. The disparity between African teams and the rest of the world appears to be narrowing, highlighting the continent’s growing talent and competitiveness in women’s football.
Despite being the only African team that did not advance beyond the group stage, Zambia finished their campaign on a high note with a 3-1 victory over Costa Rica.
The crucial match between Morocco and Colombia had its share of heated exchanges. Colombia had a strong penalty appeal early in the game when the ball appeared to strike Anissa Lahmari’s arm in the box, but the referee ruled it was unintentional.
Lahmari, eager to make amends, fired a shot from the edge of the penalty area over the bar when she found herself in a good position. Khadija Errmichi, Morocco’s custodian, demonstrated her abilities with a brilliant save just past the half-hour mark, denying Colombia an early lead.
The first half ended on a dramatic note, with Morocco awarded a penalty seconds before halftime after Ibtissam Jradi was pushed in the back in the box. Ghizlane Chebbak’s penalty shot was saved by Colombian custodian Catalina Perez, but Lahmari was quick to react, poking in the rebound to put Morocco ahead.
The second half saw Colombia launching waves of attacks, putting Morocco’s defense under immense pressure. Errmichi had to make another fantastic save to deny Daniela Montoya from close range, while Lorena Bedoya’s attempt went wide.
Colombia’s Mayra Ramírez proved to be a significant threat down the right wing, but her effort that struck the post was not enough to alter the scoreline. Ramrez had another penalty appeal turned down as the game progressed.
Morocco valiantly defended their slender lead against relentless Colombian attacks in the final moments, securing their historic victory and a spot in the round of 16.
Morocco’s unexpected success in the Women’s World Cup demonstrates their determination, skill, and the growing strength of African women’s football. As they prepare to face France in the knockout stage, the world waits to see if they can continue their incredible run in the tournament.
Main Image: The Sydney Morning Herald