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Thursday, December 7, 2023

ASFAR move within range of Morocco’s second CAFCL spot following win and Raja draw

With the joy of winning the CAF Confederation Cup and having no chance of catching rivals Wydad at the top of the Botola Pro table, it is understandable that Raja Casablanca’s recent league form is dipping a bit at the end of the season. However, if the Green Eagles wish to aspire for the high standards they set of CAF Champions League football, than they must increase their focus to secure second place because an in form ASFAR side is now on their tails following the matches on Saturday.

Raja drew Olympique Safi 1-1 on the road but have no excuse for dropping points, having gotten an early goal through Ben Malango and seeing their opponents get a red card before squandering the lead and eventually only obtaining one point. Malango gave Raja a halftime lead by receiving a throw in and holding off his defender before turning and blasting a shot through OCS keeper Achraf Hilali. When OCS defender Karim El Bounagat received a red card for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity, it appeared that Raja would cruise for a comfortable win.

However, a shocking loss of focus led to Mehdi Attouchi’s equalizer a few minutes later by heading in a corner kick and then a beautiful free kick strike by Walid Sabbar gave the hosts the lead in the 71st minute. Both goals came off the only two shots on goal OCS had the whole match. Raja were fortunate to salvage a point late on when Malango’s low cross was deflected by Hilali right into the path of substitute Fabrice Ngoma who had an easy finish from close range to equalize.

Raja are now only three points up on third placed ASFAR, who made it six wins out of their last seven games with a 0-1 road victory at Hassania Agadir. Brahim Dahmouni converted a 26th penalty kick for the Royal Army club to put them up before the visitors did well to hold on despite HUSA having the majority of the game’s opportunities. The Video Assistant Referee came to the rescue of ASFAR on two occasions by ruling out goals scored by the hosts due to offside.

With two games remaining for each team, Raja have a favorable schedule with games they should be able to win, but it remains to be seen if they can get their form together to clinch the highly valued CAF Champions League spot that is a necessity. Highlights from their draw and ASFAR’s victory are belo.

Olympique Safi 1-1 Raja Casablanca

Hassania Agadir 0-1 ASFAR