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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
1986: Morocco cross the rubicon
Zaki Badou
Badou was one of Africa's best goalkeepers

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Morocco's Atlas Lions confirmed the continent's status as an emerging football power.

They topped their preliminary group, including England, Portugal and Poland and qualified for the second round of the World Cup in Mexico.

It was the first time that an African team had achieved this feat.

The Moroccan team were not unfamiliar to the Mexican fans.

16 years earlier, the Atlas Lions had given the global football fraternity a glimpse of what they were capable of.

To the surprise of the watching crowd, they took a shock lead against West Germany at the 1970 finals but lost 1-2.

Complete Unit

Managed by Jose Faria, a Brazilian, Morocco had put together a team that is arguably the best in the country's football history.

Badou Zaki, their goalkeeper and captain was in excellent form and in Abdelmajid Lamriss, Khalifi, Mustafa El-Biyaz and Nourredine Bouyahiaoui, he had good defensive cover.

Mohammed Timoumi was their midfield pivot with Merry Krimau and Aziz Bouderbala as the striking duo.

Aziz Bouderbala
Bouderbala was one of Morocco's best players

Two goalless draws against Poland and England had made qualification an uncertainty. An outright victory against Portugal was required.

Abdelrazak Khairi scored two goals for Morocco in the 18th and 27th minutes and Merry Krimau got a third goal in the 61st.

Damiantino pulled one back for Portugal, but the Lions won the match to earn a second round birth.

Revenge

Facing West Germany brought back memories of their 1970 encounter.

The Moroccans filed into the Jalisco stadium in Gualadajara determined to even the score.

Morocco at World Cup '70
Morocco had played against West Germany in 1970

Playing with a strictly defensive formation, they kept the Germans at bay for 85 minutes.

Zaki distinguished himself by pulling off a string of saves.

On the verge of extra time, as the match hung 0-0, they capitulated to incessant German pressure.

Lothar Matthaus exploited a badly organised Moroccan defensive wall to convert a free kick.

But in defeat, the Moroccans celebrated.

By reaching the second round, they had been where no African team had gone before.

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