‘Morocco, African and Asian teams need a real number nine – a striker’: Klinsmann

Morocco’s heartwarming World Cup campaign has left the football world stunned and former German striker Jurgen Klinsmann believes they can make further progress if they fill one gap: a striker.

“Today [against France] we saw Morocco play very well in midfield and Hakim Ziyech was very influential but once they got really close to the box they lacked the finishing and the vision to get things done. I think African and Asian teams in general need to find a solution – Senegal would have been a different proposition if Sadio Mane had been fit. If you look at the big African countries, if they had a real number nine, they could harm any country in Europe or South America,” Klinsmann wrote in his BBC newsletter.

Klinsmann noted that the “quality is present in Africa and other continents” and cited the example of South Korea which made the final four in 2002. “If you have the quality to get out of the group stage, it’s a matter of confidence, team bonding and support, but also which teams have the guys who constantly guarantee goals.

A reliable striker has been the most important point, he writes. “I think this is the biggest problem, even for Croatia. The biggest problem in the end was that there was no number nine style player who could make a difference and the same was true for Morocco.

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He also discussed the role of fans in a World Cup. “The fans can have a big say in a World Cup and now fans in Africa and Asia can be confident that their country is not behind at all. This World Cup gives Morocco and other countries a lot of confidence. They had great support, Moroccan fans felt that their team played at home and this is huge too – just look at Argentina and the role their amazing fans have played as their team bounced back from a shock loss to Saudi Arabia in their first game to get better and better as the tournament progresses.”

Klinsmann applauded Morocco for the way they fought against France. “They had to make some tactical changes in the first half, switch to a back four and move Achraf Hakimi to the right side of midfield. . Wow! If that had gone in – well I think the stadium would have collapsed! They deserve a huge compliment, but their tournament isn’t over yet – they still have the third place play-off against Croatia and who would have thought at the start?… …With the next World Cup featuring 48 teams, including more from Africa, there is even more chance to impress.”

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