Defending champions, France tame Atlas Lions of Morocco 2-0, to meet Argentina in finals on Sunday

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By Eniola Olatunji 

French President, Emmanuel Macron jubilates with France in the dressing room.

World Cup defending champions, Les Bleus of France on Wednesday at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor tamed Qatar world cup giant killers and beloved team of African and Arabian nations, the Atlas Lions of Morocco 2-0 to appear in their fourth ever world cup finals on Sunday against Argentina.

France is on a path to make history perhaps winning the world cup back to back after 60 years and joining Italy and Germany as the Global Elite Teams (GET) to achieve that.

French President, Emmanuel Macron who almost wanted a jersey to join the French team was all over the players as they celebrated in the Dressing room after jumping on tables and raising very high decibels in noise.

Macron was with the team in 2018 when they lifted the cup and was emotional in hugging Croatian President, Mrs. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in 2018.

Two goals in each half chained the African Lions and sent them into their enclosure to fight for the Bronze on Saturday at 4pm against Croatia.

A defensive blunder early in the match due to delay in clearing their defensive lines opened the Lions to an early capture. Achraf Dari had blocked Kylian Mbappe shot but a ricochet found Theo Fernandez who scored with his left foot in the 5th minute, his first goal in Qatar.

On resumption of the second half Morocco piled pressure on France that waited as in James Hardley Chase Book: THE VULTURE IS A PATIENT BIRD just for counter attack with Mbappe doing his terrifying dribble runs on the left flank looking for Olivier Giroud who failed to connect several times.

The Vulture strategy paid off just one minute when Ousmane Dembele was pulled out for younger Raudal Kola Muani.

Again a loose ball from an attempt to block enfant terrible Mbappe who kept diving looking for Ref’s attention rolled gingerly to Muani who laid the match to rest with the second goal in the 79th minute.

Thus the record of Morocco was frustratingly shattered for the team had only conceded a goal in previous five games which was an own goal in the match against Canada.

Morocco collected two goals and France became the Dan Blocker of Qatar (Dan Blocker was a favorite of Children in cowboy movies in the 70’s on Nigerian Television) as they blocked men and balls in view and I am not sure if France did not succeed to block Lucifer to earn a clean sheet in the match. A clean sheet is when a team did not concede a goal in a match.

I thought the Muani move was offside and was expecting VAR man, Drew Fischer of Canada to alert 38 year old Cesar Ramos from Mexico for a video check but I was very wrong for Muani pointed stoutly to the Centre circle for a goal. Ref Ramos handled the group matches involving Denmark (0) versus Tunisia (0) and Belgium (0) versus Morocco (2) as well as Portugal (6) versus Switzerland (1) in the round of 16.

It was funny how French players kept falling like over ripe pawpaw or diving to show their swimming skills which Ref Ramos winked at especially from Mbappe, so France had five pauses for treatments to none of Morocco; noted that Morocco’s strategy was to uses cross passes to float the ball into their vital area and promptly diffused and detonated the lethal aerial balls 20 form Morocco to 6 of France and France made 7 counter attack moves to Morocco 2.

Experience defeated skills in that match even as the Moroccan players were not connecting effectively upfront.

There were 68,294 fans at the stadium, a figure just 76.8% of the standing highest attendance in a match at Qatar which is 88,966 that watched Argentina versus Mexico and 74.8% of the world record attendance in a match which was at Rose Bowl, USA in 1994 the 91,194 fans at the Brazil versus Italy match.

Attention now moves to Sunday at 4pm when the two leading scorers vying for the Golden Boot, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Kylian Mbappe of France each with five goals meet in the finals. Before then, last Runners Up, Croatia will fight for the Bronze with Morocco on Saturday at 4pm.

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