WISSAM DEHBI / AIPS in FUJAIRAH: Morocco and Uzbekistan recorded the first goalless draw of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 despite the encouragement of more than 5,000 fans.
An exciting encounter at the Fujairah stadium saw both teams cancelling each other out and as defences emerging on top.
Morocco looked the most likely to find a breakthrough but decision making in the final third let them down against the Uzbeks who have yet to concede a goal after 180 minutes of football.
In the 16th minute, the Atlas Lions’ pressure almost paid off when Hamza Sakhi hit a post with a powerful long-range shot.
Uzbekistan were content on soaking up the pressure and occasional counter attacks were stopped by the Moroccan defenders.
The second half started at a frenetic pace as both sides attempted to gain ascendency.
Hamza Sahki again tried to change the course of the game with a solo run in the 53rd minute but his weak shot flew into the waiting arms of Uzbekistan keeper Savar Karimov.
Morocco, seeking inspiration of their own, found it from Juventus prodigy Younes Bnou Marzouk who became the Uzbeks’ tormentor-in-chief.
In quick succession, Marzouk had chances to break the deadlock but both shots were off target.
Both sides have four points and a lot to do to make it into the next round. |Next time out Morocco play Panama while Uzbekistan tackle Croatia.
Morocco coach Abdellah el Idrissi was content. He said: “Both teams had taken three points from the first match and this second match was very hard but good for our players.”
Uzbekistan’s Dilshod Nuraliev revealed the extent of his preparation for this particular group when he said “We knew that Morocco were a very strong team. Usually African teams are physically very strong. This is why we played friendly matches against Tunisia and Ivory Coast just to feel the strength of African teams.
“I am looking forward to playing Morocco in the final.”