Morocco and Croatia begin their World Cup campaigns at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday in what looks set to be a very competitive and intriguing match.
The opening game of Group F will be only the second meeting between the two nations, with the only other clash coming over 25 years ago, way before Croatia’s 2018 run to the final in Russia.
In December 1996, a newly-independent Croatia were invited to the first edition of the Hassan II Trophy, a tournament organised by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation that only had three iterations in its entire history.
Henri Michel’s Morocco team found themselves two goals down against Croatia within 15 minutes after a brace from Goran Vlaovic but managed to level the game courtesy of strikes from Salahedine Bassir and Ahmed Bahja.
With the score 2-2 at full time, the winner of this semi-final match was decided with penalty kicks and the Croatians edged their hosts 7-6 in the shootout before going on to be the inaugural winners of the competition after beating Euro 1996 runners-up Czech Republic in the final.
Sadly for the Moroccans, they were unable to win their own tournament in three attempts between 1996 and 2000, but did manage to get to the final in 2000 before losing to a France team that included Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.