Morocco proud of its Atlas Lions despite Portugal defeat, World Cup exit

Morocco's midfielder Faycal Fajr walks off the pitch following the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Portugal and Morocco. (AFP/Mladen ANTONOV)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Morocco proud of its Atlas Lions despite Portugal defeat, World Cup exit

  • While Morocco were on top for long periods, the Atlas Lions could not get the goal they deserved and needed
  • Ronaldo, named man of the match by FIFA after his fourth goal of the World Cup so far, recognized that it was a tough game

MOSCOW: Morocco became the first team to exit the 2018 World Cup on Wednesday after a 1-0 loss to Portugal in Moscow left coach Herve Renard to reflect on what could have been had he been able to call up Cristiano Ronaldo.
Just five days after his hat-trick against Spain in a 3-3 thriller, the Real Madrid star was once again the difference-maker and scored the only goal of the game with a fourth-minute header.
While Morocco were on top for long periods, the Atlas Lions could not get the goal they deserved and needed. It was a similar outcome to the opening 1-0 loss to Iran when the North Africans had chances to win, but ended with nothing.
It leaves Morocco with zero points from two games in Group B and unable to finish in the top two with a final game against Spain on Monday now just a matter of pride.
“This is what happens in football,” Renard said. “In the penalty area at crucial times, the most gifted players are the ones who make all the difference. It is a lot easier to play with a player who can score from a goal opportunity. We have high quality players and should have been more effective as we had lots of chances.”
Ronaldo, named man of the match by FIFA after his fourth goal of the World Cup so far, recognized that it was a tough game for the European champions who now have four points from two games.
“I am very happy to score, but it is more important to win the game and get the points,” Ronaldo said. “We know if we lost we could be out. We knew they would be trying very hard and were very strong. It was a really tough game for us, but I managed to get the goal, and it was beautiful.”
Morocco were unhappy with the goal, with Renard asking reporters to look at the corner from which Portugal scored, hinting that Portuguese defender Pepe had fouled one of his players. “Have a good look at the corner kick and what the number three is doing and write the truth. I can’t say too much or I will be punished.”
As it is, however, Morocco are out regardless of what happens against Spain on June 25. Renard has, however, insisted that the team will leave Russia with their heads held high.
“I am not disappointed with the performance,” the French coach said. “I am very proud of my players, very proud of the country and proud of the staff. The whole Moroccan people are proud, even very proud, of this team. It felt like Casablanca in here and that is something you can never take away from the players.”
The well-travelled 49-year-old reflected on Morocco’s journey since he took the job in February 2016. “Then we were ranked 81 and now we are 41 and came to the World Cup for the first time in 20 years. Here we have shown we can play football, we do play football.”
Portuguese coach Fernando Santos paid tribute to the North Africans.
“They played well and challenged us. It is maybe an unfair result for them, that is football. If you score, you can win. I am not happy with the way we played, but we played against a good team.”


Al-Khobar to host the Billiards Championships in November

Junior, Senior and Masters Championships will be held from November 19 to 27. (Supplied)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Al-Khobar to host the Billiards Championships in November

  • The two-day youth championship will begin on November 19
  • A prize of SR 4,000 ($1,000) has been set for the first four places

JEDDAH: The International Billiards and Snooker Club in Al-Khobar will host the Kingdom's Junior, Senior and Masters Championships from November 19 to 27. 

The event will also honor billiard managers from the Saudi Arabian Billiard and Snooker Federation for their role in raising the profile of the game through a variety of competitions held by the Federation across the kingdom.

The two-day youth championship will begin on November 19 with an open number of Saudi players to refine the young talents to support the national teams in the coming days. A prize of SR 4,000 ($1,000) has been set for the first four places. This will be followed by the Senior Championship, which begins on November 21 and runs for six days. The top four players will receive prizes worth SR 8,000.

The two-day Master's championships will be held on November 27, featuring the four winners of the Senior competition and eight players nominated by the coach of the national team. The top eight players will qualify to compete in upcoming elite tournaments and earn a spot in the Saudi Billiards team.