In the third-place playoff on Saturday at the Khalifa International Stadium, a World Cup 2022 bronze medal is on the line between Croatia and Morocco.

Argentina defeated Zlatko Dalic’s team 3-0 in their semifinal match, while the Atlas Lions battled hard against France but fell short by a score of two goals to zero.

Without winning a knockout game in regular time, Dalic’s team miraculously advanced to the 2018 final and the 2022 semifinals. They are also no strangers to bronze medal contests, having defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in the 1998 third-place playoff during their first World Cup campaign.

The early withdrawal of injured trio Noussair Mazraoui, Romain Saiss, and Nayef Aguerd did not help the Africans’ efforts against the reigning champions. Still, Morocco’s current crop will undoubtedly return to their homeland as national heroes and may even be wearing the bronze medals around their necks on the flight back.

Regragui’s team could still become the first country to hold as many as five clean sheets at a single World Cup since Spain’s victorious team of 2010, even though Hernandez broke through their defense with barely five minutes remaining on Wednesday.

A few weeks after their goalless draw in Group F, where the Checkered Ones were limited to just five shots against Regragui’s backline, Croatia and Morocco will once again square off. A similarly tenacious defensive performance might propel the Africans to a historic World Cup victory.

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