France v Morocco at the Women's World Cup: Here's what to watch out for

France v Morocco at the Women's World Cup: Here's what to watch out for
Ahead of Tuesday's Women's World Cup match which sees Morocco taken on France - who previously occupied the North African country - here are the top moments to watch out for.
3 min read
08 August, 2023
Despite their low ranking, Morocco has stunned in their journey so far in the Women's World Cup, having beaten South Korea and Colombia [Getty]

Football fans could witness perhaps the most thrilling game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup so far, when underdogs Morocco take on France in Adelaide’s Hindmarsh Stadium for a place in the tournament's quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Morocco stunned the world with their win over Colombia last week, which saw them advance to the last 16 thanks to a goal by striker Anissa Lahmari.

The Atlas Lionesses reached the knock-out stage after their shock leapfrog over tournament favourites Germany - despite being thrashed 6-0 by the Frauen during their opening game on 24 July.

Having beaten Brazil in the group stage and with Germany and the US out of the competition, fifth-ranked France are now among the favourites to win the title. Despite the stiff games ahead, Morocco has vowed to not go out without a fight and could follow the men's team and reach the final stages of the tournament.

Familiar faces

The France ladies’ coach, Hervé Renard, is the former Morocco men's team manager. Renard enjoyed a successful run with the Atlas Lions between 2016 and 2019 and is revered among Morocco football fans, having reached the Men’s FIFA World Cup with them in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Moroccan ladies' coach Reynald Pedros is the former manager of Olympique Lyonnais. Many players on the French team, including captain Wendie Renard, Selma Bacha and Amel Majri, were coached by Pedros between 2017 and 2019, having won several Champions League titles together.

On Monday, the former France international said he was looking forward to taking on his country of birth when the teams face off in Adelaide on Tuesday.

"I am French but my heart is with Morocco. It's been three years since we've been working hard to get to these incredible objectives, it's not a problem for me to win against France," he told reporters

Hijab vs Laicité

Tuesday's clash should see hijab-wearing defender Nouhaila Benzina play. Benzina is the first ever player to sport the Muslim headscarf at a senior level in the Women's World Cup, and has been applauded for representing veiled Muslim women on the world stage.

However some commentators in France, which bans the hijab in many public spaces, have criticised Benzina's headscarf, including journalist Philippe Guibert who called it "regressive".

Friendly rivals

A number of the Atlas Lionesses play league football in France such as Guingamp’s Anissa Lahmari, Lille's Nesryne El Chad and Sarah Kassi - who plays for Fleury.

Teenage midfielder Kassi will face Fleury teammate Léa Le Garrec during in Tuesday's clash.

Additionally, many players from both teams have trained together while playing in France's Ligue 1.

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Diaspora connections

Like their male counterparts, many of the Atlas Lionesses are dual nationals, with many born and raised in France. Players like Lahmari, Elodie Nakkach and Kenza Chapelle will be facing their country of birth on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, France defender Sakina Karchaoui also has links to Morocco, being born to Moroccan parents in Provence region. Speaking ahead of the clash, Karchaoui said: "I'm French of Moroccan origin. It will my first time playing against Morocco and I'm proud of my heritage. But sadly, we have to win."