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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Botola Pro: Wydad increase lead at the top as Raja and Berkane suffer defeats

All of the top teams in Morocco were involved in Wednesday’s Botola Pro action and at the end of the day the results could be significant. Casablanca-based giants Raja and Wydad got differing results with Wydad’s routine 1-0 road victory against relegation candidates Rapide Oued Zem seeing them increase their league lead to six points. Second-place Raja suffered a crushing home defeat to Hassania Agadir, losing 0-1 and failing to create regular opportunities three days after their victory over Pyramids FC in the CAF Confederation Cup.

The opening match of the day saw RS Berkane’s underwhelming domestic campaign continue with a 1-2 home defeat to IR Tanger. The visitors gave RSB a gift in the 26th minute when goalkeeper Hicham El Mejhed’s efforts to keep the ball in play led to him scuffing his clearance right to Ibrahim El Bahraoui, who was able to put a shot into the empty net. However, RSB’s usually consistent defense showed cracks while conceding to two IRT attacks to forfeit their chance at any points, starting with an equalizer soon after the opener and then Abdelmounaim Akhrif’s winner late on that came far too easily.

Raja lacked rhythm despite having their starters available to them and suffered from fatigue related to match congestion in their loss. Hassania Agadir have bounced back from a poor start to the season to show the form that propelled them to the CAF Confederation Cup semi-finals last season, with a loss yet to come for HUSA in 2021. On this occasion the match was generally even but one moment of class made the difference in the 54th minute. Zouhair Chaouch sent in Youssef El Fahli with a well-weighted through ball and El Fahly stumbled past onrushing Raja keeper Anas Zniti before settling himself to direct the ball home.

Wydad controlled their match against lowly RCOZ and found the winner in the 37th minute. Veteran midfielder Salaheddine Saidi was on hand to slam home a failed clearance on a Wydad corner-kick, the first Botola Pro goal of the season for the 34-year-old. Other than the odd chance for RCOZ, Wydad had the three points in control and should have put the match away earlier.

Highlights from all three games are below.

RS Berkane 1-2 IR Tanger

Raja Casablanca 0-1 Hassania Agadir

Rapide Oued Zem 0-1 Wydad Casablanca