Morocco set for 'special' clash with France in Women's World Cup

North African team reached last 16 stage after dramatic win over Colombia

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Many expected Morocco to make an early Women's World Cup exit after crashing to a 6-0 defeat to Germany. But the North African team showed tremendous spirit to take the former champions' spot in the round of 16 following a thrilling win over Colombia.

The debutantes bounced back from their mauling with a 1-0 win over South Korea and followed up with an identical scoreline against the South Americans in Perth on Thursday.

Victory alone was not enough for Morocco. They also had to hope Germany would slip up in their corresponding game, which the Germans did by failing to beat 17th-ranked South Korea in Brisbane.

"At the end of our game, we all came together with the staff in the middle of the pitch, we had the phone and we started praying," said midfielder Anissa Lahmari, who scored the winner against Colombia just before halftime.

"We were praying, waiting for the result to come out of the Germany and Korea game. It was a [1-1] draw and afterwards it was a complete explosion of joy."

The stunning turn of events put the Atlas Lionesses in the knockout stage, where they face France, ranked fifth, in Adelaide on Tuesday.

Morocco never let Colombia get a strong foothold in the game, defending well in the first half before Lahmari netted following a goalmouth scramble after captain Ghizlane Chebbak's penalty was saved.

They will now be hoping to emulate their men's national team who stunned everyone by going all the way to the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

"We came here as debutants. There was a lot of emotion and those emotions were overwhelming against Germany," said Morocco coach Reynald Pedros.

"We helped them continue to be motivated, made adjustments and there was a lot of hard work."

The clash with France pits Pedros against the country he represented as a player.

"It is very special because it is France," Pedros said.

"I know the French team very well and maybe it will help us. They will be very difficult to play. If we have the same mindset, maybe we can go further. Our objective is not to stop now."

"What we saw tonight technically, physically, tactically, it's what we've been working on for the last three years," Pedros said.

"This is a showcase for the women's game, for the Moroccans back home and this is such a beautiful display that we're putting on here."

Updated: August 04, 2023, 6:22 AM