Morocco’s opening game against Iran will be a World Cup final - Mustapha Hadji

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The former Morocco international expects a tough contest when the north African country take on Team Melli in their first World Cup game in 20 years

Morocco assistant head coach Mustapha Hadji has disclosed that their 2018 World Cup opening fixture against Iran will be a final for them.

The Atlas Lions returned to the global showpiece since 1998 without conceding a goal or losing a game in their qualification group.

And Herve Renard’s men have been drawn with 2010 World Cup winners Spain, reigning European champions Portugal and three-time Asian Cup winners Iran in the Group B of the tournament.

Despite the pairing with the European heavyweights, the 1998 African Footballer of the Year admitted that their encounter against Carlos Queiroz’s men at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 15 will be decisive for their progress to the next round.

"The first game will be our final," Hadji told BBCSport.

"It will be a tough game because we watched Iran in qualifying and they have a very good team and a very good spirit.

"But if we win, we have a great opportunity to reach the second round. That's what we are coming for.

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"They are big nations of football [Spain and Portugal] and have won everything already.

"So that's why we have nothing to lose against these two. We have to play our football and fight - actually to give everything against them - because we know that it is not going to be easy, but we can surprise them.”

 

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