Saudi Arabia weather the storm to beat Morocco
25 Jan. 2023
Both Saudi Arabia and Morocco had claimed only one win in the previous matches of the current World Championship, as Saudi Arana defeated Uruguay 28:27, and Morocco beat Algeria with the same score.
In their encounter in Plock, Saudi Arabia had their ups and downs but ultimately took the 29th place at Poland/Sweden 2023, while Morocco finished 30th.
29/30 Placement Match
Saudi Arabia vs Morocco 32:30 (18:11)
Powered by Nabil Slassi, Morocco opened a 4:1 lead in the sixth minute, but it did not take their Asian opponents long to improve their performance.
Between minutes 14 and 22, Saudi Arabia used an impressive 7:0 run to take a 13:8 lead. Their defence and goalkeeper Mohammad Al-Salem did a good job, which resulted in many goals scored from fast breaks.
Following a 3:0 run, the team coached by Jan Pytlick increased the gap to 18:10 in the 30th minute, and although Rezzouki Reida cut the deficit with a 7m shot, a seven-goal deficit at the break left Morocco with a mountain to climb – or at least it seemed so.
However, the Africans were not going to surrender. After the restart, they started to punish the Saudi Arabian for their nonchalance, holding back their players with an aggressive defence. Meanwhile, center back Amine Harchaoui rose to prominence in attack, finishing the match with 10 goals and six assists.
Morocco were catching up surprisingly fast, closing the gap to just one goal (21:22) by the 40th minute. Yet they needed another 15 minutes to take their first lead in the second half (29:28). However, it was Saudi Arabia who were the better side late in the match, finishing it with a 3:0 run which secured them a hard-fought win.
Their captain Mahdi Al-Salem, who had been their top scorer in the previous match against Uruguay, was now rested for much of the match and netted just once. Still, his brother Mojtaba scored seven goals and another brother Mohammad recorded eight saves.
So Morocco failed to match their result from the 2021 World Championship, when they finished 29th, while Saudi Arabia, who did not feature at that competition, took the 29th place now.
hummel Player of the Match: Amine Harchaoui (Morocco)