Group B: Morocco vs Iran - soccer world cup Preview

Two players compete for ball

Benedict Ngwenya previews the opening Group B match of the soccer world cup which will see Morocco take on Iran. 

Morocco are mentored by a highly-rated man who has enjoyed success with various African national teams in Herve Renard and he has proven his worth once again by helping them qualify for their first World Cup in 28 years!

The French tactician is up against Mozambican-born mastermind Carlos Queiroz who will leave his post after the soccer world cup, rejecting a contract extension offer. I think it's only right to call this one a battle of tactics!

Morocco vs Iran | Friday 15 June | Saint Petersburg Stadium (17:00)

To Win Match
Morocco 12/10
Draw 37/20
Iran 26/10

*Please note that this preview was compiled before pre-tournament friendlies were played. 

Morocco 
To qualify for their first World Cup since 1990, Morocco had to beat navigate tricky encounters against teams like Ivory Coast, Mali, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea which shows how good coach Renard is. The French manager won the 2013 and 2015 Africa Cup of Nations with Zambia and Ivory Coast respectively.

Most of Morocco’s players are based in different European countries but they have gelled so well as a team and on their day, they can trouble anyone.

They had a modest 2017 AFCON run where they played exciting football but were knocked out in the last eight by eventual runners-up, Egypt.

Iran
Team Melli will be playing their last tournament under the tutelage of Carlos Queiroz who has been in charge of the side since 2011. The former Bafana Bafana, Real Madrid and Portugal coach is the first manager in history to reach back-to-back soccer world cups with Iran and will be looking to get off to the best possible start with matches against Portugal and Spain later on.

The teams have never played against each other before and the new chapter of potential rivalry is a tantalising prospect. In the 2014 campaign, the Iranians were winless as they lost two and drew one of their three group stage games and they will be hoping to change that against one of the minnows of their group.

Iran’s preparations for the tournament were hardly ideal as two of their recent friendlies against Turkey and Greece were called off due to “last minute, and impossible demands made by these countries”. Their only friendly that would go on just before the tournament would be on 8 June against Lithuania which might not be a weaker test than they wanted.

Verdict: Iran 26/10
Morocco are on the rise and they look right on course to be one of Africa's powerhouses but Iran’s consistency and experience at this stage in recent years will see them triumph. I would like Renard’s troops to live up to their favourites tag but I don’t see it happening. 

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