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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Raja gain valuable ground in Botola Pro title chase with win as Wydad slip up

Both powerhouse clubs from Casablanca were in action on Wednesday in Morocco’s Botola Pro and by the end of the day the title race was a bit tighter. In the opening match featuring the first and last place teams, current leaders Wydad were rather poor and slumped to a scoreless draw against Renaissance Zemamra. Seeing the struggle of their rivals to achieve a positive result, Raja went out and dominated IR Tanger to achieve a comfortable 3-0 result on the road and moved to within three points of Wydad.

A bit of squad rotation from Wydad complicated the team’s attacking chemistry with winger Badie Aouk and Tanzanian striker Simon Msuva being given rare starts, and neither were particularly effective. After a slow start to the match, just before the 20 minute mark Walid El Karti took a bouncing ball and unleashed a shot from 25 yards that left RCOZ keeper Yassine El Houasli a spectator as the ball bounced off the corner of the goal and out of play. Shortly after the hosts received the first threat to indicate that they were in for an unexpected challenge when RCOZ’s Yassine Labhiri had a golden opportunity but sent his effort wide of the mark.

Despite the removal of Aouk and Msuva at halftime, fortunes did not improve for Wydad and The Reds were limited to half chances as they continued to sputter. In fact, the visitors had another decent opportunity when Zouhair El Ouassli made a skilful run down the wing but left his teammates disappointed with the service in the end. Wydad created a few chances in the final 15 minutes but the best one, a free header from defender Achraf Dari off a corner kick, summed up the day as he was unable to put his shot on target.

On the other hand, Raja brought their finishing boots to take down 4th placed IR Tanger on the road with Congolese striker Ben Malango continuing a streak of six straight games with a goal at the club level. Malango was on hand to first time an excellent low cross from the left wing into the net past IRT keeper Tarik Aoutah and Raja were up after 17 minutes. IRT had a couple chances of their own but fell behind by two goals in the 39th minute when Soufiane Rahimi got free on the left wing and dribbled to within close range of the Tanger goal before applying a composed finish.

Soon after the break Malango got his second courtesy of an excellent through ball from Abdelilah Hafidi, his pass finding a streaking Malango who got behind the high IRT defensive line to lift a shot over the advancing Aoutah. IR Tanger certainly had their opportunities throughout the match but it was the class of Raja that allowed the CAF Confederation Cup participants to prevail without much concern.

Highlights of both games are below.

IR Tanger 0-3 Raja Casablanca

Wydad Casablanca 0-0 Renaissance Zemamra