While the Moroccans had expected a surprise, they said the result against the 2018 finalists was satisfactory.
They will “take it.”
Morocco and Croatia drew 0-0 at Al Bayt Stadium in what was a fairly quiet game apart from the boisterous enthusiasm of supporters of the Atlas Lions, as the Moroccan team is known.
But while many Moroccan fans were hoping for an upset against the 2018 World Cup finalists, a draw sets their team up for a possible path to advance in the World Cup, and fans know it.
“We’re up against a much stronger opponent… I thought maybe we could repeat what Saudi Arabia did, but it’s still good,” Moroccan fan Belal Hamdou, who lives in Doha, told Al Jazeera, referring to the dramatic blow. Saudi Arabia 2-1 against Argentina. on Tuesday. “A draw will do for now… the team could have attacked more but I don’t want people to push. Let’s support them until the end.”
The Moroccans entered the game very helpless. However, highly rated Croatia, featuring star player Luka Modric, were unable to overcome their defense to score.
In the end, it became clear that the Moroccan fans’ belief had risen to a level where they felt a surprise victory was possible.
The crowd was largely subdued after the final whistle, except for boos when Modric was announced man of the match.
“I really wanted to win…it was a very boring game…but this will do for now. It is a good encouragement for us when we play against others in the group,” said Mohammed El Yamiq, 42, from the western Moroccan city of Mohammedia.
Braving the heat, the stadium was filled with colour, mischief and excitement: a sea of red and green, the hues of the Moroccan flag, swept through the stands that included couples, groups of friends and families with small children.
The Croatian fans were certainly much smaller than their Arab counterparts.
Frank Kanajet, who is from the southwestern city of Split in Croatia, felt his team had better chances. “As the 2018 World Cup finalists, we had an obligation to win,” said the 60-year-old.
But his son Andre was less surprised, saying the result was “expected.”
“Morocco is a strong team…. he was more or less even. said the 38-year-old man, who lives in Abu Dhabi.
Another Croatian fan, Josep, said he would have “felt calmer” with a win as he believes Belgium and Canada, the other two teams in the group, will be tougher opponents than Morocco.
Croatia will play Canada on November 27, while Morocco will face Belgium on the same day.