Brazil and Morocco, losers of last Tuesday's semi-finals, will have to summon up their last vestiges of energy in Utrecht on Saturday and approach their last match at Netherlands 2005 suitably motivated.
Brazil coach René Weber admitted after his side's 2-1 defeat to arch-rivals Argentina: "It will certainly be difficult to motivate my players again." When a Brazilian team comes to a world championship, anything less than the title is considered a failure.
However, morale is equally low in the Moroccan camp after their 3-0 defeat at the hands of Nigeria in Kerkrade. The loss was all the more disappointing since the players and coach Jamal Fathi know full well that they could have performed better. A few spells in the first half aside, Morocco failed to get into the game against the West Africans.
"We are obviously disappointed because we proved earlier in the tournament that we could play better football than we managed against Nigeria. We have made great progress here and I think the first half was quite even. We just lost our morale after the second goal went in," Fathi concluded.
Fathi incensed by poor discipline
The minimum requirement Fathi had asked of his players before the game was good discipline, and yet Morocco ended the game with nine men after top striker Mousshine Iajour and Rida Doulyazal were dismissed, much to the annoyance of their coach. "That is the first time one of our players has infringed the rules of fair play and sportsmanship. I have decided to fine both players 5,000 Euros, which will go to an orphanage. It is important for players at this age to learn their lesson." Two days after the defeat, Fathi repeated his claims that his players could not cope with the pressure: "Even the greatest players have moments in their careers where they lose their heads," before adding that his prodigies are good players with great potential and a sense of sportsmanship.
Fathi also took the opportunity to apologise for the inappropriate behaviour of some Moroccan fans. "We regret the things that happened in Kerkrade. The World Youth Championship organised by the Organising Committee NeXXt2005 and FIFA should be a joyous occasion for players and fans alike. It is unfortunate that a minority of fans spoiled things in the stadium. We hope in the future that our fans will show the world how to celebrate a world championship in a typically sportsmanlike Moroccan way."
The Moroccans will particularly miss Iajour in the game against Brazil. The front man has struck three times in the tournament so far. Defender Salah Sbai, back for the third place play-off after a one-match suspension, is looking forward to the clash with the de-throned champions despite the disappointment of missing out on the final: "It is still a game against Brazil and we will give it everything," he is quoted as saying.