The Greens Boys snatched a late winner over the Oceania representatives in the Club World Cup opener to book quarterfinal place
The 2013 Fifa Club World Cup opened on Wednesday at the Adrar Stadium in Agadir, Morocco, with host team Raja Casablanca entertaining New Zealand side Auckland City for a quarterfinal berth.
A late minute strike from 21-year-old winger Abdelilah Hafidi helped the hosts see off a fierce challenge from the Navy Blues, who were poised to drag the meeting into a penalty shootout after a 1-1 stalemate by the 90th minute.
Both teams were playing each other for the first time, with Auckland’s best outing against an African side dating back to the 2009 edition when they won against TP Mazembe 3-2 in the fifth place play-off.
Backed by an overwhelming support from over 30,000 fans, Raja dominated much of the first half but their efforts remained futile in front of goal despite Auckland’s nervy defending and struggle to get a foothold in the game.
The first real goal opportunity fell to Mouhssine Iajour by the 22nd minute after linking a sublime chip from Raja captain Mohsine Moutaouali inside the New Zealanders’ box, but the set piece was thwarted by Auckland goalkeeper Tamati Williams.
Auckland also had their chance by the half hour mark when Roy Krishna struck a powerful effort on target but was blocked by Raja’s last man.
Ten minutes later, the host team opened the scoring through Iajour, who, after being set up inside the box by Karrouchy, poked his left-foot effort inside the far post, with Williams sprawling helplessly.
The score would stand till the break and thereafter, with Raja still on top of the proceedings, until the 63rd minute when a misunderstanding between defending duo Mohamed Oulhaj and Ismail Benlamalem opened a breach for pacy Roy Krishna to claim the leveller.
Despite the shock that quietened the home crowd, Raja maintained their tempo and poured forth, botching up a few chances before Abdelilah Hafidi tapped in a rebound from Williams who failed to save a goalline header from Karrouchy deep in stoppage time.
Raja Casablanca will face Mexican side CF Monterrey in the quarter-finals at the same facility on December 14.