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World Cup 2022: Morocco is “rocky” of the tournament after beating Portugal | Today Headlines

World Cup 2022: Morocco is “rocky” of the tournament after beating Portugal

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Watch Moroccan fans celebrate their historic World Cup win
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Story makers.

Three previous African teams had reached the quarter-finals of the competition – but were unable to go further.

This time it was different.

Wonderful Morocco lit up this World Cup – and their fans were rewarded as they watched their side become the first from their continent to reach the semi-finals.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal were sent home, and the Atlas Lions roar through Youssef En-Nesyri’s header winner in the first half.

“We are becoming a team that everyone loves because we show what we can achieve,” said winning boss Walid Regragui.

“If you show passion, heart and belief you can succeed and my players have shown that. It’s no miracle – those in Europe might say yes, but we beat Portugal, Spain , Belgium and draw against Croatia without conceding It is the result of hard work.

“The African and Arab teams are working hard but we have made our people happy and proud. The whole continent is proud. When you watch Rocky Balboa you want to support him and we are the Rocky of this World Cup.”

Tears of joy for Regragui

Full-time scenes as Morocco become first African side to qualify for World Cup semi-finals

Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) all fell in the quarter-finals, but Morocco shattered the glass ceiling to cause pandemonium at the Al Thumama stadium.

After whistling every touch of the ball from the Portuguese, the mockery of onlookers turned into a cacophony of cheers as the substitutes piled onto the pitch full time.

“Seeing, seeing, (come on, come on),” chanted the fans. “Dima Maghrib (Forever Morocco),” shouted the others.

Boss Regragui, who orchestrated the run, was hoisted into the air by his players, who then sprinted towards their supporters behind goal with arms raised.

Former Scotland winger Pat Nevin said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “The noise in this stadium is unbelievable. I’m trying to think of when a clash like this happened at the World Cup.

“They deserve it, not just for their skill and effort, but that noise just keeps growing.”

Morocco had become not only the first African team, but also the first Arab team from a Muslim-majority country, to reach the last four of the biggest competition in world football.

The team displayed their Islamic beliefs, reciting passages from the Quran in their group ahead of their penalty shootout success against Spain in the previous round.

As they had done then too, the players and staff bowed in sujud (prostration) in front of their fans after the win over Portugal.

Meanwhile, substitute Achraf Dari celebrated by draping himself in a Palestinian flag, Paris St-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi found his mother to kiss her while former Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal danced with his mother.

Regragui was one of the last to leave the pitch at the end, clearly emotional after such an important win.

Former Southampton player Sofiane Boufal danced on the pitch with his mum after the game

He was applauded in the post-match press conference once again alongside goalkeeper Bono and said his team ‘Alhamdulillah (thank God)’ had a chance to win the World Cup and the whole world was now with Morocco “Inshallah (if God wishes).”

He added: “It’s the first time I’ve cried at the end of a game. I have to be an example and show that I’m mentally strong but sometimes it’s too much for you.

“Coming to the semi-finals of the World Cup the emotions are pouring out. I would be lying if we thought we would get to this stage, I just couldn’t control the tears.”

Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, the player of the match, added: “We are here to change mentalities and get rid of inferiority. Morocco is ready to face anyone in the world, beyond the semi-finals. finals and everything else.

“We have changed this mentality and the generation that will follow us will know that Moroccan players can create miracles.

“I have great players with me and they are all fantastic. When someone comes up against Morocco now, they know they can play at the highest level.”

There were more tears, this time from Cristiano Ronaldo, who walked through the tunnel full-time knowing that, at 37, his dream of lifting the World Cup might just be over.

Morocco players
Moroccan players kowtowed in full-time celebration

Analysis

Shaimaa Khalil, BBC News reporter

It’s a gigantic sporting moment and it’s the best performance in the history of this team but it goes beyond football. It is a much-needed moment of collective joy and pride for an entire region and continent. Fans have traveled across the Arab world to be here in Doha.

“Now I can tell my kid that I was there when my team made history,” a fan told me.

The three words I heard for most Moroccan fans were “proud”, “belief” and “trust”.

As one fan said, “It’s a moment of confidence that we can take on the giants.”

Tonight there is one more word to add to the Moroccan narrative of the 2022 World Cup. History.

“Good vibes” from Africans and Arabs

Morocco are a solid and well-organized team – but without key defenders. West Ham’s Nayef Aguerd and Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui were injured, while captain Romain Saiss was taken off on a stretcher in the second half.

It didn’t matter.

Their replacements showed the fighting spirit needed to get them through.

Morocco are unbeaten in eight games under Regragui, who was only appointed in September, and have kept seven clean sheets – conceding just one own goal against Canada in the group stage.

Regragui said: “It’s the toughest tournament. We’ve faced some of the best teams, but it’s true that we could have cashed in against Portugal.

“But if you put heart, desire and humility, you make your own luck. The energy of African and Arab people gave us good vibes.

“Everyone was behind us and we did this fantastic feat and went down in the history books. We are among the top four in the world. They are great players and deserve all the applause they get.

“We showed people that African teams can go to the semi-finals or even the final. Earlier in the tournament I was asked if we can win the World Cup – why not? Why shouldn’t we dream ?”

“If you don’t dream, you won’t get anywhere and dreams don’t cost anything. European teams are used to winning the World Cup. Now we have to get going and push ourselves.”

“This time for Africa” ​​- reaction

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World Cup 2022: Morocco is "rocky" of the tournament after beating Portugal

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