World Cup 2022: Morocco is “Rocky” of the tournament after beating Portugal
- December 10, 2022
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See Moroccan fans celebrate historic World Cup victory Host Nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November – 18 December Coverage: Live on ZooHouseNews TV, ZooHouseNews iPlayer, ZooHouseNews Radio 5 Live, ZooHouseNews Sounds and the ZooHouseNews Sport website and app. Daily TV Listings – Full Coverage Details
Three previous African teams had reached the quarter-finals of the competition – but failed to advance that step.
It was different this time.
Wonderful Morocco lit up this World Cup – and their fans were rewarded by seeing their side reach the semi-finals first on their continent.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal were sent home and the Atlas Lions roar thanks to Youssef En-Nesyri’s first-half header winner.
“We’re becoming a team that everyone loves because we show what we can achieve,” said winning coach Walid Regragui.
“If you show passion, heart and faith, you can succeed and my players have shown that. It’s no wonder – the Europeans may say that, but we’ve beaten Portugal, Spain, Belgium and drew against Croatia without conceding a goal. ” This is the result of hard work.
“African and Arab teams work hard but we have made our people happy and proud. The whole continent is proud. When you see Rocky Balboa you want to support him and we are the Rocky of this World Cup.”
Tears of joy for Regragui
Full-time scenes showing Morocco becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup
Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) had all failed in the quarter-finals, but Morocco broke the glass ceiling and caused chaos at Al Thumama Stadium.
After the Portuguese blew the whistle for every touch, the cheering of the watching fans turned into a cacophony of cheers as the full-time substitutes swarmed onto the pitch.
“Seer, seer, (go, go),” the fans chanted. “Dima Maghrib (Forever Morocco),” others shouted.
Boss Regragui, who directed this run, was hoisted into the air by his players, who then sprinted towards their supporters behind the goal with their arms raised.
Former Scotland winger Pat Nevin said on ZooHouseNews Radio 5 Live: “The noise in this stadium is unbelievable. I try to remember when a shock like this happened at the World Cup.
“They deserve it, not just for the skill and effort, but for the noise that keeps coming up.”
Morocco became not only the first African team but also the first Arab side from a Muslim-majority country to finish in the last four of world football’s biggest competition.
The team displayed their Islamic faith and recited passages from the Koran before defeating Spain in the preliminary round on penalties.
As in the past, players and coaches bowed to their fans in sujud (prostration) after the victory over Portugal.
Meanwhile, substitute Achraf Dari celebrated by wrapping himself in a Palestine flag, Paris St-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi found his mother to kiss, while ex-Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal danced with his mother.
Regragui was one of the last to leave the field at the end, clearly emotional after such a significant win.
Former Southampton player Sofiane Boufal danced on the pitch with his mother after the game
He was greeted once again in the post-match press conference alongside goalkeeper Bono, saying his team “Alhamdulillah (thank God)” has a chance to win the World Cup and the whole world is 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 a role model and show that I’m mentally strong, but sometimes it’s too much for you.
“In the semi-finals of the World Cup, emotions are overflowing. I would be lying if we thought we would get to that stage, I just couldn’t hold back the tears.”
Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, the player of the match, added: “We are here to change the mentality and get rid of inferiority. Morocco wants to compete against everyone in the world, beyond the semifinals and everything else.
“We changed that mentality and the generation after us will know that Moroccan players can do wonders.
“I have great players with me and they are all fantastic. Now when someone plays Morocco they know they can play at the highest level.”
More tears shed, this time from Cristiano Ronaldo, who trudged down the tunnel at the age of 37 knowing his dream of winning the World Cup might be over.
The Moroccan players bowed in celebration after full-time
ZooHouseNews News reporter Shaimaa Khalil
This is a sporting mammoth moment and the best performance in the history of this team, but it goes beyond football. This is a much-needed moment of collective joy and pride for an entire region and continent. Fans have traveled from all over the Arab world to be here in Doha.
“Now I can tell my kid that I was there when my team made history,” one fan told me.
The three words I heard from most Moroccan fans were ‘pride’, ‘faith’ and ‘confidence’.
As one fan put it, “This is a moment of confidence that we can take on the giants.”
Tonight there is one more word to add to Morocco’s 2022 World Cup history. Story.
“Good mood” from Africans and Arabs
Morocco are a solid, well-organized team – but lack key defenders. West Ham’s Nayef Aguerd and Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui were injured while captain Romain Saiss took off on a stretcher in the second half.
It didn’t matter.
Their substitutes showed the fighting spirit needed to pull them through.
Under Regragui, who was only called up in September, Morocco are unbeaten in eight games and have kept seven clean sheets – conceding just one own goal against Canada in the group stage.
Regragui said: “This is the most difficult tournament. We played against some of the best sides but it’s true that we could have conceded a goal against Portugal.
“But if you use heart, desire and humility, you make your own fortune. The energy of the African and Arab people has given us good vibrations.
“Everyone was behind us and we pulled off this fantastic performance and went down in history. We’re in the top four in the world. They’re great players who deserve all the credit they get.”
“We showed people that African teams can reach the semi-finals and even the final. At the beginning of 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 get nowhere and dreams cost nothing. European teams are used to winning the World Cup. Now we have to get in there and grow beyond ourselves.”
‘This time for Africa’ – reaction
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