- Abdeladim Khadrouf is appearing at his second FIFA Club World Cup
- His Wydad side lost out to Pachuca after extra time on Saturday
- The play-off for fifth place offers an opportunity for atonement
Wydad Casablanca's defeat by Mexican outfit Pachuca was a doubly bitter pill to swallow for Moroccan midfielder Abdeladim Khadrouf. While most of the Wydad players made their FIFA Club World Cup debuts in the game, it marked Khadrouf's second appearance – and loss – in the competition.
Three years ago, on 10 December 2014, Khadrouf and his Moghreb Tetouan team suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak against Auckland City in the opening match of the 2014 edition, on home turf in Morocco.
On Saturday evening, the 32-year-old put in a tireless shift before being replaced in the last minute of normal time. Consequently, he was powerless to do anything but watch on from the substitutes' bench when Victor Guzman headed home in the 112th minute, ending Wydad's resistance.
Despite the similarities between these two defeats, Khadrouf told FIFA.com after the encounter that, "the circumstances are different today. The mood isn't the same as the first time that I was involved in the competition."
Khadrouf – who covered every blade of grass during his time on the pitch, running 10.73 km – felt that Wydad deserved better against the CONCACAF champions.
"Luck wasn't on our side today," he said. "We wasted a number of chances and the sending-off also hindered us. That's football, though: we tried to get the win but failed."
The midfield workhorse, who has been playing professionally since 2010 and joined Wydad last year, could not help but shake his head from side to side when team-mate Zouhair Laaroubi's net was rippled by Guzman's header.
"It's tough to lose because we wanted to go far in the competition," he said. "That reaction was only natural after all our effort. We looked to hit them on the break after going down to ten men. We came close to taking it to penalties, where it would've been a toss-up. The result is pretty tough to take."
A chance to head home on a high
Khadrouf's Moghreb finished in last spot at the 2014 edition, a fate that he and Wydad will be desperate to avoid on Tuesday, when they take on Urawa Red Diamonds in the play-off for fifth place at Al Ain's Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. As the midfielder explained, "We were targeting better than fifth place, but we're going to try to win to salvage some pride for the team and Moroccan football. We've got to prove that today's defeat was down to bad luck."
The veteran, who was born in the coastal city of Mohammedia, in north-west Morocco, signed off by paying tribute to the Wydad supporters, who continued to make their presence felt right down to the final whistle of the Pachuca game.
"Our fans believe in us because they know what the team is capable of," he concluded. "We'll be extra motivated to win the next match so we can dedicate the victory to them."
If Wydad do emerge victorious on Tuesday, it will at least go some way towards exorcising the painful demons of 2014 for Khadrouf.