A moving post-match email: “In 1993 as a boy I stayed up all night to watch Canada lose on penalties in an inter-confederation qualifying playoff versus Australia and had tears in my eyes,” writes Benjamin Clark. “I thought that team would build on that campaign but qualification struggles followed for the majority of my life.
“Last January, my soccer-crazy son and I attended our first game together and watched Canada win 2-0 against the USA in the qualifier in Hamilton with Sam Adekugbe’s goal occurring right in front of our ecstatic eyes. I will be eternally grateful to this Canada team for all the moments that the qualifying campaign and this World Cup has provided and especially for the moments I’ve shared with my son and family. Thank you!
“Also thank you to the Canadian women for the Olympic Gold medal game which was also fantastic! I never thought I would live to see such Canadian soccer accomplishments.”
Match report: Canada 1-2 Morocco
Group F: “Morocco are through to the last-16 of the WOrld Cup for the second time in their history after an early pair of goals from Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri brushed aside any suspense of their progress,” writes Bryan Armen Graham from Al Thumama Stadium.
John Herdman: “That they were two inches away from securing the first point for Canada,” says Canada’s manager upon being asked what his team learned today. “I think everyone thought that ball was going to cross the line, we were willing it but it didn’t. So you’ve seen our resilience, you’ve seen our quality against a Morocco team that’s just won the group.
“I’m proud of what these lads have shown here. It’s going to sting but there isn’t a game that we’re not proud of. I think we competed in every match here. It’s the first time we’ve been here in 36 years so there’s a qualitative gap at all levels and we’re trying to close that. We’ll keep learning as an organisation, as a coach and as players and we’ll be back stronger. This was our first step into the great unknown and we’ve learned a lot. We’ve got quality, we can compete and we were close.”
Atiba Hutchinson: “On the chance, it was a very good ball in and I just tried to get my head on it and keep it down,” says the Canadian veteran. “It wasn’t enough. Today we gave everything but it just wasn’t enough. We tried our best, we gave everything we have inside of us because we wanted to fight for ourselves and get something out of this tournament, to get the first points on the board for this country. We’re all proud of ourselves and what we’ve done. We’ve come and shown the world what we’re made of. It’s the start of a new beginning for us and in four years time we’ll be there again and we’ll make some noise.”
Elsewhere in Group F: Croatia have finished second after a scoreless draw with Belgium, who crash out.
Full time: Canada 1-2 Morocco
It’s all over! For only the second time in their history, Morocco advance to the knockout stages and I’ll tell you something for nothing, on the evidence we’ve seen in this World Cup so far they’re going to take some beating. They conceded their first goal in seven games today and it took one of their own defenders to score it. Their players, coaching staff, substitutes and fans are understandably ecstatic.
90 min: It’s kitchen sink time for Canada, who are throwing everything at Morocco. They win a corner and their goalkeeper Milan Borjan comes up to make a nuisance of himself. Alphonso Davies’ delivery is dreadful. As Morocco clear, the ball goes out for a throw-in. Davies chucks the ball to Borjan, whose cross into the mixer is headed clear. With Borjan sprinting back upfield, the ball drops his way. He swings wildly at it and misses but on this occasion gets away with his lack of finesse.
87 min: Morocco goalkeeper Bono darts a couple of yards outside his penalty area to collect a through ball, remembers he can’t catch it and under pressure from Alphonso Davies, chests it back into the box and catches it as a somewhat bemused Romain Saiss looks on. Hey, whatever works.
85 min: Morocco substitute: Yahya Jabrane on for Achraf Hakimi.
84 min: Steven Vitoria is booked for catching Hamdallah with his arm. The Moroccan goes to ground holding his face and rolls theatrically for about 10 yards.
82 min: Canada corner. With Junior Hoilett no longer on the pitch, Alphonso Davies swings the ball to the near post, where Alistair Johnston had made a darting run. The defender gets too much of his noggin on the ball and what was supposed to be a flick sends the ball high and wide.
79 min: Sofyan Amrabat goes on a promising run infield with the ball at his feet but tries to do too much. He cuts back needlessly and is disposssessed when he should have played the ball left and wide to the completely unmarked Aboukhlal.
77 min: Morocco double-substitution: Jawad El Yamiq and Abderazak Hamdallah on for Ounahi and Ziyech, who have both played very well.
76 min: Canada substitution: Junior Hoilett leaves the pitch and is replaced by David Wotherspoon, who comes on for his World Cup debut.
75 min: Another Canada corner, another Junior Hoilett delivery. This one is also cleared at the near post, with Noussair Mazraoui doing the honours.
74 min: Canada win another corner. On this occasion, Junior Hoilett’s delivery is cleared at the near post by Selim Amallah.
71 min: Oh Canada, how’s your luck? An Alphonso Davies free-kick is headed out for a Canada corner. Junior Hoilett’s inswinger is headed goalwards by Atiba Hutchinson, rattles the crossbar and bounces down on to the line. A heavily marked Jonathan David is unable to nod it home as it bounces back up. I was sure that was in but the technology and an action replay says otherwise.
70 min: Hakim Ziyech goes down on the edge of the Canada penalty area, desperately appealing for a penalty … a free-kick … anything. The referee is having none of it and signals to him to get to his feet.
69 min: Amid all those changes, a football match threatens to break out again with Canada still searching for an equaliser. They’re spending a lot more time around the fringes of the Morocco penalty area but really struggling to create anything in the way of goalscoring chances.
67 min: Canada have made a fourth substitution, bringing on Richie Laryea for Jonathan Osorio.
64 min: Morocco substituion: Zakaria Aboukhlal and Selim Amallah on, Sofiane Boufal and Abdelhamid Sabiri off.
61 min: Canada triple-substitution: Atiba Hutchinson, Ismail Kone and Jonathan David on. Sam Adekugbe, Mark-Anthony Kane and Cyle Larin make way. Hutchinson, the oldest player to feature at a World Cup since Cameroon’s fabled senior citizen Roger Milla, is 39 and there is talk that this could be his last appearance for his country.
59 min: Junior Hoilett goes to ground injured after being clattered by Sofyan Amrabat. Play continues as he lies on the deck holding his head but is eventually stopped when the ref spots him.
57 min: Junior Hoilett sends in a decent cross from the right. In the centre, Alphonso Davies stretches and gets his toe to the ball but is unable to steer it on target. A good chance goes to waste.
56 min: The free-kick is an inswinger that bounces on the edge of the six yard box and sails wide. There was too much pace on it for Cyle Larin to get on the end of it at the far post.
55 min: Ziyech is penalised for a foul on Davies. Moments later, Sofiane Boufal fouls Junior Hoilett and Canada have a free-kick in a good position wide on the right.
53 min: Alpohonso Davies chucks the ball to the referee, suggesting it isn’t sufficiently inflated. Senor Claus concurs and has it replaced.
50 min: Ziyech tries to play Boufal in behind with an excellent ball from deep. The former Southampton man isn’t quick enough to beat Jonathan Osorio to the ball and the Canadian midfielder clears.
48 min: Achraf Hakimi goes on a mazy run infield before pinging the ball wide to Hakim Ziyech. He plays the ball inside, where Hakimi tries to backheel it into the path of En-Nesyri. His well-intentioned flick doesn’t quite come off and Canada clear their lines.
46 min: On BBC co-comms, Martin Keown is bemoaning the misuse of Alphonso Davies, who is cutting a forlorn figure as his teammates struggle to get him on the ball. He’s played in three different positions so far in this tournament – right wing-back, left wing-back and right wing – and now appears to have been moved further upfield into a centre-forward position.
Second half: Canada 1-2 Morocco
46 min: Play resumes with no changes in personnel on either side.
Half-time analysis: “Canada was coming into this with tempered expectations - but at least that of bettering their showing in Mexico 86,” writes John Pitre. “And I guess they did - scoring a goal (at least) - this time around. But the harsh reality that a positive Canadian attitude and boundless energy will only get you so far is a hard lesson. As was said on the Football Weekly podcast, youth is on their side and hopefully we can build on an excellent qualifying campaign and lessons learned for 2026. But my fear is that this is tough lesson is going to haunt them for a while.”
While I don’t disagree with much of the above, it is worth remembering that Canada played Belgium off the park in their opening game. It was profligacy in front of goal that ultimately cost them the points.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it dept: “World Cup organisers are increasingly open to discarding the new three-team group format for the 2026 tournament in the US, Mexico and Canada,” reports Sean Ingle from Doha.
Elsewhere in Group F: It’s scoreless between Croatia and Belgium at half-time. As things stand Morocco will go through to the last 16 as group winners, with Croatia joining them in second place.
Half-time: Canada 1-2 Morocco
Peep! Raphael Claus draws first half proceedings to a close in a what has thus far been a very entertaining game. Morocco lead by the odd goal of three, on the back of an audacious chip from Hakim Ziyech and a fine strike from Youssef En-Nesyri. Canada pulled one back when Nayef Aguerd unwittingly blocked a Sam Adekugbe cross from the left into the corner of his own goal.
45+3 min: Morocco’s “goal” is ruled out because Nayef Aguerd was in an offside position and ajudged to have been in the goalkeeper’s line of vision when En-Nesyri struck his volley. Between that infringement and his own goal, the Moroccan central defender has been Canada’s undisputed man of the match so far.
45+1 min: Sam Adekugbe is booked for a foul and Morocco win a free-kick wide on the right. Ziyech swings the ball into the mixer, the ball is half-cleared and Youssef En-Nesyri scores with a volley. Or does he?
42 min: It was a goal that came very much against the run of play but Canada will take whatever they can get. Aguerd is credited with the goal, despite the best attempts of his goalkeeper, Bono, who tried to claw the ball away from the goal but succeeded only in helping it over the line. Morocco’s Nayef Aguerd becomes Canada’s joint top goalscorer in World Cup finals history.
GOAL! Canada 1-2 Morocco (Aguerd 40og)
Canada pull one back! Nayef Aguerd scores the first own goal of the tournament, turning a low Sam Adekugbe cross to the near post past his own goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
39 min: Steven Vitoria is penalised for a shove to the back of Youssef En-Nesyri as the pair contested a high ball. He protests his innocence but replays show it was a fair kop by referee Raphael Claus.
37 min: Cyle Larin picks up the ball in a promising position on the right wing but his attempted cross is poor. Morocco regain possession but give the ball straight back to Junior Hoilett.
35 min: There’s a short break in play as the referee seems to have some sort of problem with his headset or battery pack.
32 min: Romain Saiss picks out Ziyech with a wonderful ball out wide to the right touchline. He advances upfield before pulling the ball back into the penalty area, where Aliostair Johnson blocks Abdelhamid Sabiri’s shot on goal.
30 min: Youssef En-Nesyri is flagged for offside as he tries to erun on to a scooped pass over the top from Hakim Ziyech.
28 min: Well under the cosh, Canada continue to struggle to string more than a few passes together. Their central midfielder Jonathan Osario has just been booked for some indiscretion or other.
27 min: En-Nesyri chased a long ball from the back, got between two Canada defenders and shot past Borjan, who was beaten by the pace of the first-time strike but almost certainly should have done better.
25 min: Youssef En-Nesyri’s place in Morocco’s starting line-up was in some doubt coming into this game but the Sevilla striker has repaid Walid Regragui’s faith in him by becoming the first Moroccan to score in two separate World Cups.
GOAL! Canada 0-2 Morocco (En-Nesyri 23)
Morocco double their lead! Youssef En-Nesyri scores with a fine strike, beating Milan Borjan at his near post after running on to a speculative ball down the channel.
21 min: Morocco win the ball back. Ziyech takes on and beats his man before sliding the ball into the Canada penalty area, trying toi pick out Achraf Hakimi. His delivery is wayward and Canada clear.
20 min: Mark-Anthony Kaye goes to ground after shipping an accidental arm in the face and Canada win a free-kick just inside their own half.
18 min: There are a huge number of Morocco fans in the stands, who are whistling and jeering Canada’s players any time they get on the ball. It’s quite a hostile atmosphere.
14 min: Cyle Larin waltzes down the inside right and curls an excellent low cross to the far post. Tajon Buchanan stretches every sinew but is unable to make contact with the ball and prod it home. That was a great run by Larin.
13 min: Alistair Johnson robs Sofiane Boufal of the ball as the Morocco winger was shaping to cross into the penalty area. The Canada central defender sprints to prevent the ball going out for a corner but is unable to do so. Nothing comes from the set piece.
11 min: Morocco continue to boss this game in its early stages. Earning some respite, Canada get out of their own half with Tajon Buchanan galloping down the left touchline with the ball at his feet. He runs it out of play.
9 min: Ziyech whips the ball in from the corner, forcing Borjan to block somewhat unconvincingly at his near post.
7 min: Junior Hoilett is booked for a bad challenge on Azredine Ounahi. Free-kick for Morocco, about 30 yards from the Canada goal. Ziyech blasts the ball into the Canada wall, knocking over Vitoria, who blocked it with his head. Corner for Morocco.
5 min: What an awful goal to concede. Steven Vitoria sold his goalkeeper Milan Borjan short with a terrible backpass, forcing him to dash out of his penalty area as Youssef En-Nesyri tried to beat him to ball. Borjan got to it first but played it straight to Hakim Ziyech, who was at least 35 yards out but immeditaely chipped the goalkeeper, who was trapped in no-man’s land and helpless to prevent the ball sailing into the empty net.
GOAL! Canada 0-1 Morocco (Ziyech 4)
Morocco lead! It’s a gift from the Canadians, whose calamitous defending allows ZIyech to chip Milan Borjan.
3 min: Canada get forward with Alphonso Davies on the ball. He appears to be playing on the right wing for Canada today.
1 min: Abdelhamed Sabiri collectas the ball on the left flank and switches play with a cross-field pass to Hakim Ziyech. His cross into the Canada box has plenty of zing. Sofiane Boufal flings himself at the ball but can’t connect. It goes out for a throw-in off the back of Canada defender Alistair Johnston.
Canada v Morocco is go ...
1 min: Morocco get the ball rolling, their players wearing white shirts, shorts and socks. The players of Canada are in all red kit.
Not long now: The teams march out on to the pitch and line up either side of Brazilian referee Raphael Claus and his team of match officials for the national anthems.
Morocco: The North African side have kept six consecutive clean sheets and played 622 minutes of football since they last conceded a goal in the eighth minute of an African Nations Cup win over South Africa in June.
Canada v Morocco: John Herdman makes three changes to the team that started against Croatia. Jonathan Osorio, Mark-Anthony Kaye come into the centre of midfield, while Junior Hoilett starts up front. Stephan Eustaquio, Atuba Hutchinson and Jonathan David drop out.
There are two changes to the Morocco side that beat Belgium. Yassine “Bono” Bouno returns in goal, while Abdelhamid Sabiri astarts on the left side of midfield, with Selim Amallah dropping to the bench.
Croatia v Belgium: Roberto Martinez has dropped his skipper Eden Hazard from Belgium’s starting line-up, which is fairly surprising news despite the player’s poor performances in his country’s opening two games. Roberto Smyth has the latest on that one …
Sweepstake news: As well as £90 for the winner and £50 for the runner-up, in my local pub’s sweepstake there is a £20 prize for whoever picks the worst team in this World Cup. My friend’s cocker spaniel, Norman, “picked” Qatar and needs Canada to win, draw or lose by no more than two goals to take the consolation prize. By an amazing twist of fate, the dog’s owner is a Sunderland-supporting native of Consett in County Durham and during his schooldays he was taught by Canada manager John Herdman.
Canada v Morocco line-ups
Canada: Milan Borjan (c), Alistair Johnston, Samuel Adekugbe, Kamal Miller, Steven Vitoria, Junior Hoilett, Tajon Buchanan, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Cyle Larin, Alphonso Davies, Jonathan Osorio
Subs: St. Clair, Piette, Fraser, Cavallini, Ugbo, Hutchinson, Kone, Pantemis, David, Laryea, Millar, Wotherspoon, Cornelius, Waterman.
Morocco: Yassine Bounou, Achraf Hakimi, Noussair Mazraoui, Sofyan Amrabat, Nayef Aguerd, Romain Saiss (c), Hakim Ziyech, Azzedine Ounahi, Abdelhamid Sabiri, Soufiane Boufal, Youssef En-Nesyri
Subs: Hamdallah, Zaroury, Mohamedi, Chair, Aboukhlal, Amallah, Ezzalzouli, El Yamiq, Dari, Cheddira, Tagnaouti, El Khannous, Benoun, Attiyat Allah, Jabrane.
Today’s match officials
Referee: Raphael Claus
Assistant referees: Rodrigo Figueiredo and Danilo Simon
Fourth official: Yoshimi Yamashita
Video Assistant Referee: Julio Bascuñan
John Herdman: “I’ve done 11 great years in this country, love the country, love the people and I’m excited for 2026,” said Canada’s boss, upon being asked if he planned to stay in charge of the team for the next World Cup, which his adopted country is co-hosting. “I’ve been pioneering for a long period of time, and you’ll not find anyone as passionate as I am about this program or these players or this staff. You won’t find anyone as passionate who wants to take the country to that next level.”
Walid Regragui: “There are other coaches that like to make you think that they’re magicians, they’re the ones, they’re puppeteers,” said Morocco’s manager in his pre-match press conference. “The players are the ones that make the coach and not the other way around.”
Asked about Hakim Ziyech, who returned to the Morocco fold in the wake of a 15-month absence following the dismissal of Vahid Halilhodzic, Regragui had this to say. “A lot of people talk about him, about he is a crazy guy, he is a difficult guy to manage, he can’t help the team. For me, what I say, when you give him the love, the confidence, he can die for you. And it’s what I give him. He is a big player, playing on a big team in Europe and you see he is a different player with the national team. All of the coaches give him the confidence, the same with the staff.”
Early team news
Canada’s English manager John Herdman has a full squad to choose from but may use this game to give some of his fringe players some World Cup experience. Having played a back four against Croatia, he may revert to the back five that served him considerably better in Canada’s opener against Belgium.
Morocco winger Abde Ezzalzouli is reported to be out with a hamstring injury but otherwise Walid Regragui has a full squad to choose from. Following the late withdrawal of his goalkeeper Yassine Bounou through illness moments before the start of their win over Belgium, Munir Mohamedi stepped into the breach. Bounou has made a full recovery from the apparent dizziness that forced him to pull out of the Belgium game and could start today.
Those Group F permutations in full
Having lost to Belgium and Croatia, Canada cannot progress to the knockout stages whatever the outcome of this match.
Morocco will go through to the last 16 if they draw or win. They will win the group if they beat Canada and Croatia fail to beat Belgium. Should they lose they will need Belgium to get beaten, or Croatia to lose by two or more goals than they do. If Morocco lose by four goals or more, a draw in the other group match would result in their elimination.
Croatia will advance to the last 16 courtesy of a win or draw. Three points will guarantee them top spot if Morocco fail to beat Canada. If Croatia lose against Belgium, they will need Canada to beat Morocco and hope their goal difference is superior to the North African side.
Belgium will qualify for the last 16 with a win against Croatia but will exit the tournament if they lose. A draw could see Belgium through to the knockout stages, but only in the unlikely event of Morocco losing by four or more goals against Canada. Belgium can still top Group F if they beat Croatia and Morocco fail to beat Canada.
Group F: Canada v Morocco
The 44,400 capacity Al Thumama Stadium is the venue for a match between a Canada side that has no chance of making the knockout stages and Morocco, who can still advance to the last 16. A win or draw will send the North African side through but they can also progress if they lose, depending on what happens in the other group game between Belgium and Croatia, which is of course being played elsewhere simultaneously. Kick-off is at 3pm (GMT) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.