With just 180 minutes of action separating them from a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Congo DR and Morocco face off in the first leg of their play-off tie at Stade des Martyrs.
Ahead of next week’s return leg in Casablanca, the teams will be looking to steal a march on each other as they aim to be in the hat for November’s global showpiece.
Morocco were head and shoulders above every other African side during the previous stage of the qualifiers, as they won all of their six Group I games by a combined score of 20-1.
Vahid Halilhodzic’s men failed to replicate that form at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, where they bowed out to Egypt in the quarter-final.
With five previous appearances at the World Cup finals, the Atlas Lions will fancy their chances of coming out on top against an opposing side who have only featured once at this level.
However, Morocco have won only two of their 11 encounters against Congo DR, with their last victory in this fixture coming back in a friendly 16 years ago.
Friday’s visitors are yet to lose a game in 90 minutes since 2020, and another positive result in this one would certainly put them on the right track to secure a ticket to Qatar.
Congo DR fended off the threat of Benin to finish as winners of Group J having amassed 11 points from their six fixtures including a 2-0 victory over the aforementioned Benin on the final matchday.
Hector Cuper’s men did not participate in January’s AFCON and suffered a friendly 1-0 defeat to Bahrain in their most recent involvement last month.
Prior to that, the Leopards were on a seven-game unbeaten streak on their own patch since losing to the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon back in 2020.
With their home support cheering them on massively, Friday’s hosts set out to pick up a crucial victory in their bid to end a 48-year wait for a World Cup outing.
Congo DR World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
Congo DR form (all competitions):
Morocco World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
Morocco form (all competitions):
We say: Congo DR 1-1 Morocco
Morocco boast the better team on paper, but Congo DR’s home form could see them come away with a point in what should be an enthralling affair.