In a match where victory was a must for both teams on Sunday at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup it was the Atlas Lionesses of Morocco who came out on top over South Korea with a 1-0 Group H victory in Adelaide. A header in the 6th minute from Ibtissam Jraidi was enough for Morocco to secure a historic first ever World Cup victory, keeping their hopes alive to advance to the knockout stages. The Atlas Lionesses will need to defeat Colombia when they conclude Group H play on Thursday.
A lopsided defeat to world power Germany on their World Cup debut had the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations runners-up in danger of early elimination but the North African team showed resilience. On a day when Nouhaïla Benzina became the first woman to play while wearing a hijab it was fitting that Morocco struck first early on.
In the 6th minute Hanane Aït El Haj started the play with a throw-in on the right wing and combined with Sakina Ouzraoui before sending a cross towards the near post. Former ASFAR Rabat star Jraidi snuck in and dove to guide a perfect header past South Korea goalkeeper Kim Jung-Mi for her country’s first-ever World Cup goal.
From then on it was an even clash that saw Morocco hold on thanks to the efforts of goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi. The ASFAR shot stopper did well to produce reaction saves early in the second half as well as in the 75th minute following a South Korea corner kick. Benzina nearly doubled Morocco’s lead but struck her 55th minute shot with too much power when a rebound fell kindly.
In the end it was the Atlas Lionesses who held on for a victory in a match where they were heavy underdogs. A desperate charge from South Korea to keep their faint hopes alive of advancing fell short thanks to the efforts of the Moroccan defense largely composed of reigning CAF Women’s Champions League winners ASFAR.
Click the link below for highlights from the match.