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.