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Casablanca defeat Mineiro

Moroccan hosts book date with Bayern

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Raja Casablanca upset the odds on Wednesday evening with a 3-1 victory over Copa Libertadores winners Atletico Mineiro and their superstar Ronaldinho in an exciting and attractive Club World Cup semi final. The Moroccan host club will now face Bayern in Saturday evening’s final.

A boisterous 35,219 crowd at Marrakech Stadium saw the underdogs rise above themselves and prevail over their Brazilian opponents. Mouhssine Yajour (51), Mohsine Moutaouali (84, pen) and Vivien Mabide (90+4) hit the target for Casablanca, who reached the last four by beating Mexican representatives CF Monterrey and New Zealand club Auckland City in the previous rounds. The disappointing Mineiro side only once threatened a fightback when Ronaldinho fired a 63rd-minute equaliser.

The result means it is already a fairytale second appearance at the Club World Cup for Raja Casablanca. The Moroccan champions’ trump card is their passionate support, as the semi-final success was followed by pandemonium on the streets of Marrakech with victory parades and spontaneous parties. Bayern must now cope with a hostile and partisan crowd in Saturday’s final.

Raja full of confidence

“I believed in my team right from the start of this tournament because we have a lot of talent. We’ve not made the final by chance. It’s the result of hard work,” declared Casablanca coach Faouzi Benzarti.“I want to thank our unbelievable fans. Their support is incredibly valuable.“

The Moroccans have huge respect for their final opponents. “Bayern are a fantastic team who won three trophies last season, and they have a great coach. Pep Guardiola has already infused his team with his philosophy of football,” the Raja coach continued. However, Benzarti does not believe his men will easily capitulate: “We’ll approach the final with confidence, believe in ourselves and give it everything one more time.“