The FIFA Clubs World Cup kicked off Wednesday with Raja Casablanca Athletic (MAR) facing Auckland City FC (NZL) at the Agadir Stadium in Morocco in African continent. The host nation representative had a compensation time goal to edge over the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) champions taking the victory 2-1.
"Auckland were tough opponents,” Raja Casablanca Coach Faouzi Benzarti said. “They’re a very well-organized and disciplined team. We started the match well and took the lead but then conceded an equalizer after making a catastrophic error. Luckily, we were rewarded with the winning goal in injury time.”
The host nation squad took the lead in the 39th minute when Adil Karrouchi found Mouhssine Iajour in the box. The striker shot to the far corner to put the ball past goalkeeper Tamati Williams for the 1-0 lead. The stadium went wild as the hosts scored the first goal of the tournament.
The home side was in control of the pitch for the remaining time until a collision gave the OFC champion a shot on goal. Roy Krishna put the ball past the keeper to close the gap 1-1.
After the goal the local squad continued on the attack with no luck. Raja kept control firing from all sides and dominating the field with great passing. When it looked like the game would go into extra time, the African squad broke the net. Abdelilah Hafidi recovered a rebound that goalkeeper Williams could not control. Hafidi simply pushed the ball that landed at his feet past the OFC “gatekeeper” to put the game 2-1.
"It was a close match, but unfortunately it ended with a bitter result for us,” Auckland City Coach Ramon Tribulietx said. “Although Raja had greater possession, we had our chances too. I’m very proud of my lads.”
Auckland City has participated in the last three Club World Cups as the OFC representative. However, this is the third opening match that the New Zealand-side has lost. The host nation will try to ride the momentum into Saturday’s quarterfinal game against Mexico’s CF Monterrey. The Mexican-based squad is in their third participation in a row. Last year the Rayados finished in the competition in third place.