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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Raja Casablanca and Rabat-based sides each grab three points in Thursday’s Botola Pro action

Raja Casablanca’s form has not been convincing enough for their supporters in recent weeks with only one victory in their previous five games heading into their road encounter against Mouloudia Oujda, but the Green Eagles utilized the hot form of Congolese strike Ben Malango on their way to a 0-2 victory. With one more game played than rivals and current Botola Pro leaders Wydad, Raja are a point behind in second place as they now prepare for their second leg matchup against South Africa’s Orlando Pirates in the CAF Confederation Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

Hosts Mouloudia Oujda never got a firm foothold in the match and Malango scored his third goal in the last five matches to open the game’s account in the 33rd minute. Malango timed his jump perfectly to nod home a corner-kick that left keeper Marouane Fakhr in a tough spot. Mouloudia Club increased their efforts after halftime but veteran Raja keeper Anas Zniti was at his best, doing well to keep out a particularly venomous effort from outside the Raja penalty area. In the 70th minute Malango was involved again to put the hosts away when he ran onto a ball behind the defense before patiently waiting for countryman Fabrice Ngoma and crossing low for the midfielder to slot his shot past Fakhr.

Fath Union Sport Rabat earned an important 1-2 road victory against upstarts IR Tanger to lift themselves into the top-10 at the expense of the 5th place side. The first half had its fair share of opportunities for both sides but neither could capitalize in a scoreless period with both teams missing a couple of guilt-edged chances. The action kicked into gear soon after halftime when 17-year-old FUS starlet El Mehdi Maouhoub was on hand to tap home a cross in the 58th minute, just barely staying onside after a VAR review. Botola leading scorer and and Gabon international Axel Meye equalized 8 minutes later by sliding onto a cross from a meter out before a beautiful free kick goal from FUS’s Naoufel Zerhouni made the difference for the visitors in the 75th minute.

Back in the capital city Rabat, ASFAR needed a late strike to edge out Renaissance Zemamra, whose current last place standing is the result of close matches frustratingly not going their way and Thursday’s result continued the trend. Chaos ensued following an 8th minute corner kick for ASFAR before Congolese defender Yannick Bangala nodded home after a shot bounced high off the crossbar, his header just making it over the line. Renaissance Zemamra overcame the frustration of a potential Abdou Atchabao equalizer being ruled out by VAR to finally find the equalizer in the 75th minute through El Mahdi Bellaaroussi, who took advantage of a mindless ASFAR giveaway to shoot his deflected effort past keeper Ayoub Lakred. However, Cape Verde international defender Diney Borges’ perfectly placed 88th minute header and then yet another disallowed Renaissance goal by VAR left the visitors’ hearts truly broken by the end of the match.

Highlights from all three matches are below.

Mouloudia Oujda 0-2 Raja Casablanca

IR Tanger 1-2 FUS Rabat

ASFAR Rabat 2-1 Renaissance Zemamra