MELBOURNE, Australia — Morocco’s debut game at the Women’s World Cup ended in a 6-0 loss to two-time champion Germany in what head coach Reynald Pedros described as a “David versus Goliath" contest.
Germany is ranked No. 2 and the Atlas Lionesses are No. 72 and the first Arab or North African team to qualify.
The margin of defeat on Monday was the biggest so far at the tournament where Morocco is one of eight teams on debut.
Pedros has made it clear the opening game is now history, and Morocco's focus must shift swiftly to the next game against South Korea.
“Our objective is obviously to as quickly as possible get back to work," he said. "We’re still going to stay positive, that’s extremely important.”
A large contingent of Morocco fans, many gathered in the southwest corner of the stadium in Melbourne, cheered vocally for the recent Africa Cup of Nations finalists.
“We were coming up against a team that’s extremely high level,” Pedros said. “We could have avoided some of the goals we conceded, but I think we gave it our all, and we’re in a competition that’s a high-level competition.”
Throughout the match, Morocco struggled defending crosses and corner kicks. Germany opened its scoring with captain Alexandra Popp finding the back of the net with two first-half headers serviced from out wide.
In the second half, Klara Bühl and Lea Schüller added to Germany’s tally, bookending two own goals that bounced off Morocco’s Hanane Aït El Haj and Yasmin Mrabet after German corners.
Pedros described the third goal – coming from Bühl just 23 seconds into the second half – as a “hard blow,” noting that if the team could have scored after Popp’s opening wo goals, the end result may have been different.
The Atlas Lionesses will look to earn crucial points against No. 17-ranked South Korea on Sunday, before finishing the group stage against No. 25 Colombia on Aug. 3.
“As soon as one (goal) goes in, and you don’t really gain momentum after that against a team like Germany, it’s always going to be hard,” Morocco forward Rosella Ayane said. “We have the spirit, we have the fight, and we’ll regroup.”
Cassidy Hettesheimer is a student at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.