The dominance of North African teams at the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar continued on Wednesday as champions Morocco demolished Palestine 4-0.
The slick playing Atlas Lions were never troubled and it was no surprise when defender Mohammed Nahiri fired a scorcher on 40 minutes to set the tone for another rout.
Abdelilah Hafidi scored two goals before Benoui Badr finished the job in the 87th minute.
The scoreline did no justice to the utter dominance of the Maghreb side who will surely be among this year’s favourites to go all the way.
They will fancy their chances against group opponents Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but the bigger test may lie ahead in the knock-out stage.
Saudi Arabia fielded a youthful team for this tournament, but that did not impress Jordan who edged their neighbours 1-0.
The more matured Jordanians served their young opponents a useful football lesson in a match played ironically at Education City – even with ten men.
Having hit the crossbar twice, Jordan found their luck as Saudi defender Khalifah Aldawsari turned a shot into his own net on 62 minutes to condemn the Desert Eagles to defeat.
Jordan can now fancy their chances against Palestine.
The Saudis must pick themselves up from the ashes of defeat and find a way past Morocco and Palestine – or else kiss Qatar 2021 goodbye.
Morocco begins Arab Cup campaign in style