Morocco failed to go top of their 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifying group after playing to a dull 0-0 draw against Mali at the Stade 26 Mars in Bamako on Tuesday night.
With Cote d’Ivoire losing 2-1 to Gabon in a Group C qualifier, also on Tuesday night, a win would have seen Morocco top the standings.
Instead, the result leaves Cote d’Ivoire at the top of Group C with seven points, followed by Morocco in second place on six points.
Gabon are third in the qualifying standings with five points while Mali prop up the group with two points.
Mali put up a much improved defensive performance compared to the six goals they conceded against Morocco last week Friday in a Group C qualifier.
That, however, looked like the only thing the Malians worked on in practise because while they were stubborn in defence, they failed to really offer any threat in attack.
Instead, the opening half saw Morocco with the lion’s share of possession as they pushed forward in attack but unable to create any real goal scoring chances.
A rather dull opening half ended goalless.
The second half was not much better with neither side actual able to hold onto the ball for a sustained period of play.
Rather, both teams wasted possession with bad passing and poor decision making in the final third of the field.
Hakim Ziyech had the perfect opportunity to steal victory on the night, but he missed a penalty kick in the 72nd minute (after which he was immediately replaced).
That was as close as we came to seeing a goal on the day. This 0-0 result will quickly be forgotten by all involved, especially a dud Moroccan side.
Mali: Diarra, Kone, N’Diaye, Wague, H. Traore, M. Doumbia (A. Traore 73’), T. Doumbia, Sylla, L. Coulibaly (Niane 86’), Marega (K. Coulibaly 60’), Bissouma.
Morocco: Munir, Hakimi, Saiss, Benatia, Dirar, Boussoufa, El Ahmadi, Ziyech (Tannane 73’), Fajr (Bennasser 65’), Amrabat (Carcela-Gonzalez 82’), Boutaib.