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New Zealand-based American teacher to handle Nigeria-Iceland tie; Ronaldo dashes Morocco’s World Cup hopes

By Olawale Alabi

New Zealand’s Matthew Conger will handle Nigeria’s Russia 2018 second Group D fixture against Iceland on Friday at Volgograd.

The 39-year-old American who resides and teaches in Palmerston North in New Zealand will be assisted by Simon Lount of New Zealand and Tevita Makasini, a Tongan high school tutor.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lount was born and raised in Leicester in England and works for a company which supplies furniture fittings and architectural hardware.

Lount will be the match’s Assistant Referee 1 (AR1), while Makasini is the Assistant Referee 2 (AR2).

Ricardo Montero of Costa Rica will be the Fourth Official, while Hiroshi Yamauchi of Japan will be the Reserve Assistant Referee (RAR).

While this is going to be the first outing in the 2018 competition for Conger and the two assistant referees, Montero and Yamauchi are however different.

They are going to be having their second outing, having been involved in Monday’s game between Tunisia and England in Volgograd.

 

Meanwhile, Morocco’s Atlas Lions on Wednesday joined Egypt as another team taking an early departure from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after losing 0-1 to Portugal in Moscow.

This loss at the Luzhniki Stadium was their second in Group B action, after losing 0-1 to Iran on Friday, and it means they can only end up with three points.

That will be if they beat Spain in their last group match on June 25, but that may not even be enough for second round qualification.

Portugal knew they needed to win, and they went for it to establish themselves in the group, after squandering an early lead against Spain on Friday before struggling to draw level.

Cristiano Ronaldo helped them take the match in hand when he lunged to put a 4th minute header past goalkeeper Monir El-Kajoui, off a Joao Moutinho cross from a short corner kick.

It was the Portugal captain’s fourth goal of Russia 2018, following his hat-trick in the 3-3 draw with Spain, and it took the European champions to four points from two games.

But it also meant the unlucky North African side joined Egypt, who have also lost their two matches, in being eliminated from the tournament.

However, Morocco did not just lie back to be beaten, they only failed to convert their chances after subduing Ronaldo who was restricted to a few harmless moves after scoring.

In spite of their battling display which saw them put goalkeeper Rui Patricio to test many times, Morocco will rue their defending in the opening minutes.

It shows naivety, perhaps, for a side which qualified for the finals without conceding a goal in six matches to allow Ronaldo stand alone in the goal area.

He is the most dangerous attacker at present at the tournament, and it was his 85th international goal.

The goal took him beyond the European record set by Hungarian Ferenc Puskas, with only Iran’s Ali Daei ahead of him on 109.

Morocco, who were in their first finals appearance since 1998, regrouped well and showed some real positivity in attack.

Hakim Ziyech and Nordin Amrabat had plenty of the ball, but Portugal generally defended well to limit the danger.

Morocco dominated the second half and Portugal were grateful to Patricio for a fantastic low dive to touch clear Younes Belhanda’s sharp header.

Medhi Benatia also shot over the bar when he should have scored after an hour.

Morocco will now go on to face Spain on June 25, the same time Portugal will take on Iran, but the results will in no way save the North Africans from returning home early.

 

 

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