Casablanca cheer home fans in Club World Cup
Agadir: The tenth FIFA Club World Cup football tournament opened on a windy but passionate night when Raja Casablanca knocked out Auckland City FC in a last-gasp 2-1 victory to enter the quarter-final and repay their home fans` fanatic support.
Mouhssine Iajour picked up a through ball from the fullback Adli Karrouchy, ran to the unmarked left area and slotted his left- foot shot above the keeper Tamati Williams six minutes before half- time.
Mouhssine then ran to the track outside the pitches, kneeled down and kissed the ground in front of tireless home fans, who sang, waved flags, jumped shoulder to shoulder in 90 minutes and almost rocked the Agadir Stadium with their thunderous voice despite facing the chilly wind Wednesday night.
Auckland City, the Oceania kings, seized the opponent`s defensive mistake after the restart when Roy Krishna dribbled past three misplaced defenders to beat the helpless keeper Khalid Askri.
But the host side and unstoppable fans grabbed the winner in the second minute of injury-time.
Mohamed Oulhaj`s headed shot was saved by Williams only to fall to the control of Abdelilah Hafidi who tapped in the rebound to send the green-colour-packed stadium into delirium.
Auckland City, though sharing the record with Egyptian side Al Ahly with fifth participation in the FIFA`s biggest club tournament, failed to find an equaliser and had to leave the stage.
Raja Casablanca owe their play-off place in the opening match as the host team thanks to their 2012-13 Moroccan league championship win.
The victory made the dubbed Green Eagles through to the next- round clash against CF Monterrey representing North and Central America Saturday, when Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, the newly crowned Asian champions, will meet African winners Al Ahly in another quarter-final.
The winners from the two quarter-finals will then respectively meet South America`s Atletico Mineiro and European champion Bayern Munich respectively in the semi-finals.
Before the opening match, players, fans and officials observed a moment of silence and applauded Nelson Mandela, South Africa`s former President, who died at the age of 95 and his image was shown on a giant screen.