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Key facts as Morocco, Croatia play for pride




Croatia and Morocco meet for the second time at FIFA World Cup 2022 as they both seek a victorious conclusion to a memorable campaign in the third-place play-off.

Their first encounter, in the opening Group F fixture, ended goalless. The nations’ only other meeting was also a draw, 2-2 in Casablanca in 1996 – though Croatia prevailed 7-6 on penalties.

While this fixture is new territory for Morocco – and indeed any African team – Croatia took the bronze medals on their finals debut in 1998, when they defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in Paris.

This is the second successive FIFA World Cup third-place play-off between teams who also met in the group stage, Belgium and England having also done so in 2018.

Croatia have yet to concede a goal against African opposition at the FIFA World Cup, wins against Cameroon (4-0 in 2014) and Nigeria (2-0 in 2018) preceding this year’s stalemate against Morocco.


Key facts

  • Croatia are unbeaten in their previous three FIFA World Cup matches against African nations (W2 D1) and kept clean sheets in each of those matches.
  • Croatia have lost only two of their last 22 international matches (Won 12;  Drew 8).
  • Victory for Morocco would see them record the best finish of a non-European or South American nation in the FIFA World Cup since 1930, when the USA finished third (note: there was no match for third place in 1930, the USA finished third via their overall record at the 1930 finals).
  • There has never been a penalty shoot-out in the play-off for third place in a FIFA World Cup final competition.
  • If selected, Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi will become the first Moroccan players to reach ten FIFA World Cup appearances.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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