AL RAYYAN: Morocco will play to win against eliminated Canada in their final World Cup Group ‘F’ match on Thursday to fly the Afri­can flag high even though a draw would be enough to send them through, coach Walid Regragui said on Wednesday.

The North Africans are seeking to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time in nearly four decades.

“It will be like playing a final,” Regragui told a news conference. “Canada have nothing to lose. They are already out and it is up to them to hold their heads high. We also have a lot to get out of the game and a lot to lose.”

After snatching a goalless draw against 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia, Morocco sealed their first World Cup win in 24 years with a 2-0 victory over Belgium on Sunday.

Thursday’s opponents Canada are already out of the tournament after losing their two first games, but they will want to leave on a high and record their first ever World Cup victory.

“We are motivated and we know that as long as the referee does not blow the whistle we have not qualified or achieved anything,” Regragui said.

“The most important thing is after the game to move to the next round. We hope to fly the flag of African football high.” A win or draw would make sure Morocco advance to the Round of 16 for the first time since 1986.

If Canada prevail, Morocco will need Belgium to beat Croatia in the other Group ‘F’ match, with the goal difference determining if they or Croatia advance.

“What we wanted is to be ambassadors of our own destiny and not rely on other results,” the coach said. “Either a win or a draw, this is what we need. I don’t care what Canada need. They want to make their own history. Now it is our role to demonstrate that we are worthy of advancing.”

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2022

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