TANGIERS: Morocco coach Walid Regragui has hailed his team as history makers after they followed up their giant-killing feats of last year’s World Cup with their first win over Brazil in a friendly in Tangier on Saturday.
The Atlas Lions became the first Arab team to defeat the five-times world champions, with goals from Sofiane Boufal and substitute Abdelhamid Sabiri earning Morocco a 2-1 victory.
“It feels like I’m dreaming,” Regragui told reporters. “We wrote history. We beat Brazil, who are number one in the FIFA rankings and the country of football.”
The match, Morocco’s first since their stunning run to last year’s World Cup semi-finals, was played out in a festive atmosphere at a sold-out Ibn Batouta stadium in front of more than 65,000 fans.
“To make the celebration beautiful, we had to win this match and that’s what we did,” Morocco centre back Romain Saiss said.
“We were at the level even though it was complicated. The mental state of the team made the difference and made people happy again and that’s what is important.”
Boufal opened the scoring in the 29th minute before Casemiro equalised for Brazil after an error by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, but substitute Sabiri scored Morocco’s winner with a powerful shot 11 minutes from time.
The result was further proof of the strides Morocco have made under Regragui.
They became the first Arab team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals last year and the first African team to make the semi-finals, beating Belgium, Spain and Portugal on the way.
In the night’s other friendly fixture, Niclas Fuellkrug struck twice in the first half to give Germany a welcome 2-0 victory against Peru in their first game since a catastrophic World Cup campaign in Qatar last year which ended with a group stage exit.
Germany coach Hansi Flick had made clear his desire to experiment with younger players in friendlies against Peru and Belgium as his side automatically qualified for Euro 2024 as hosts.
The Germany coach named a squad which contained five uncapped players and left out big-name stars such as Thomas Mueller, Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan.
But it was 30-year-old Bundesliga journeyman Fuellkrug who made the difference as Germany eased past a toothless Peru side.
Germany dominated the first half and deserved to take the lead on 12 minutes.
Kai Havertz brought down a long ball from Nico Schlotterbeck in the box, allowing an unmarked Fuellkrug to smash in the opener from close range.
Debutant Marius Wolf fizzed a low cross into the box to set up Fuellkrug for a first-time, close-range finish to double the lead just after the half-hour mark.
Germany will next face Belgium on Tuesday in Cologne.
Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2023
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