While Moroccans were hoping for an upset, they said the result against the 2018 finalists was satisfactory.
They’ll “take it.”
Morocco and Croatia drew 0-0 at the Al Bayt stadium in what was a rather uneventful game — aside from the boisterous enthusiasm of supporters of the Atlas Lions, as the Moroccan side are known.
But while many Moroccan fans were hoping for an upset against the finalists of the 2018 World Cup, a draw sets their team up for a possible pathway to advance in the World Cup — and the supporters know it.
“We were up against a much stronger opponent … I thought maybe we could repeat what Saudi did but still it’s ok,” Moroccan fan Belal Hamdou, who lives in Doha, told Al Jazeera, referring to Saudi Arabia dramatic 2-1 coup against Argentina on Tuesday. “A draw will do for now … the team could have attacked more but I don’t want people to put pressure. Let’s support them till the end.”
The Moroccans went into the game very much the underdogs. However the highly rated Croatia – with star player Luka Modric – were unable to get past their defence to score.
By the end, it was clear that the belief of the Moroccan fans had lifted to a level where they felt a surprise win was possible.
The fans were largely subdued after the final whistle, except for the jeers when Modric was announced player of the match.
“I wanted a win badly … it was very much a boring game … but this will do for now. It is a good booster for us when we play others in the group,” Mohammed El Yamiq, 42, from the western Morocco city of Mohammedia said.
Braving the heat, the stadium was filled with colour, antics and excitement – a sea of red and green, the shades of the Moroccan flag, swept the stands that included couples, groups of friends and families with young children.
The Croatian fans were certainly in far lower numbers than their Arab counterparts.
Frank Kanajet, who is from the southwest city of Split in Croatia, felt their team had the better chances. “As finalists of the 2018 World Cup, there was an obligation for us to win, ” the 60-year-old said.
But his son Andre was less surprised and said the result was “expected”.
“Morroco is a strong team…. it was more or less evenly matched.’ the 38-year-old, who lives in Abu Dhabi, said.
Another Croatian fan Josep said he would have “felt more easy” with a win as he believes Belgium and Canada — the other two teams in the group — will prove tougher opponents than Morocco.
Croatia will next play Canada on November 27, while Morocco take on Belgium on the same day.