World Cup 2022: Morocco are ‘Rocky’ of tournament after beating Portugal


Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Protection: Dwell on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Dwell, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport web site and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

Historical past makers.

Three earlier African sides had reached the quarter-finals of the competitors – however couldn’t take that step additional.

This time, it was completely different.

Marvellous Morocco have lit up this World Cup – and their followers obtained their reward by witnessing their facet turning into the primary from their continent to achieve the semi-finals.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal had been despatched residence, and the Atlas Lions go roaring on courtesy of Youssef En-Nesyri’s first-half headed winner.

“We have gotten a staff everybody loves as a result of we’re exhibiting what we will obtain,” stated victorious boss Walid Regragui.

“If you happen to present the fervour, coronary heart and perception, you possibly can succeed and my gamers have proven that. It’s not a miracle – these in Europe would possibly say it’s, however now we have overwhelmed Portugal, Spain, Belgium and drawn in opposition to Croatia with out conceding. That’s the results of arduous work.

“African and Arab groups work arduous however now we have made our individuals blissful and proud. The entire continent is proud. Once you watch Rocky Balboa, you wish to assist him and we’re the Rocky of this World Cup.”

Tears of pleasure for Regragui

Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) had all fallen on the quarter-final hurdle however Morocco broke the glass ceiling to trigger pandemonium at Al Thumama Stadium.

Having whistled every contact of the ball from the Portuguese, the watching supporters’ jeers turned to a cacophony of cheers as substitutes piled on to the pitch at full-time.

“Seer, seer, (go, go),” chanted the followers. “Dima Maghrib (Ceaselessly Morocco),” screamed others.

Boss Regragui, who has masterminded this run, was hoisted into the air by his gamers, who then sprinted in direction of their supporters behind the aim with arms aloft.

Former Scotland winger Pat Nevin stated on BBC Radio 5 Dwell: “The noise on this stadium is unimaginable. I’m making an attempt to consider when such a shock as this has occurred within the World Cup.

“They deserve it, not just for the ability and energy however that noise simply retains on turning up.”

Morocco had turn out to be not simply the primary African facet, but in addition the primary Arab one from a rustic with a Muslim majority, to achieve the final 4 of the largest competitors in world soccer.

The staff have displayed their Islamic beliefs, reciting passages of the Quran of their huddle earlier than their success on penalties over Spain within the earlier spherical.

As that they had performed then too, gamers and workers bowed down for sujud (prostration) in entrance of their followers after victory over Portugal.

In the meantime, substitute Achraf Dari celebrated by draping himself in a Palestine flag, Paris St-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi discovered his mum once more to kiss her whereas ex-Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal danced along with his mum.

Regragui was one of many final to depart the pitch on the finish, clearly emotional after such a big victory.

Sofiane Boufal
Former Southampton participant Sofiane Boufal danced on the pitch along with his mum after the sport

He was applauded into the post-match information convention as soon as extra alongside goalkeeper Bono and stated his staff “Alhamdulillah (due to God)” had an opportunity of profitable the World Cup and that all the world was now with Morocco “Inshallah (if God needs).”

He added: “It’s the first time I’ve cried on the finish of a match. I’ve to be an instance and present I’m mentally sturdy however generally it’s an excessive amount of for you.

“Attending to the semi-finals of the World Cup, the feelings simply pour out. I might be mendacity if we thought we might get to this stage, I simply couldn’t management the tears.”

Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, the participant of the match, added: “We’re right here to alter the mentality and eliminate the inferiority. Morocco is out to face anybody on the earth, past the semi-finals and anything.

“We’ve modified this mentality and the era coming after us will know Moroccan gamers can create miracles.

“I’ve nice gamers with me and they’re all unbelievable. When anybody faces Morocco now, they know they will play on the highest stage.”

There have been extra tears, this time from Cristiano Ronaldo, who trudged down the tunnel at full-time figuring out on the age of 37, his dream of lifting the World Cup might be over.

Morocco players
Morocco gamers prostrated in celebration at full-time

Evaluation

BBC Information reporter Shaimaa Khalil

It is a mammoth sporting second and is the very best efficiency on this staff’s historical past nevertheless it goes past soccer. It is a much-needed second of collective pleasure and pleasure for a complete area and a continent. Followers have travelled from throughout the Arab world to be right here in Doha.

“Now I can inform my child I used to be there when my staff made historical past,” one fan informed me.

The three phrases I’ve heard most Moroccan followers have been “proud”, “perception” and “confidence”.

As one fan put it: “It is a second of confidence that we will stand face to face with the giants.”

Tonight, there’s yet one more phrase so as to add to Morocco’s 2022 World Cup story. Historical past.

‘Good vibes’ from Africans and Arabs

Morocco are a strong, well-organised outfit – however had been with out key defenders. West Ham’s Nayef Aguerd and Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui had been injured, whereas captain Romain Saiss taken off on a stretcher within the second half.

It didn’t matter.

Their replacements confirmed the battling spirit wanted to tug them by.

Morocco are unbeaten in eight video games below Regragui, who was appointed solely in September, they usually have saved seven clear sheets – conceding solely an personal aim in opposition to Canada within the group levels.

Regragui stated: “That is essentially the most tough event. We’ve performed a number of the finest groups, however it’s true we might have conceded in opposition to Portugal.

“However if you happen to put within the coronary heart, need and humility you make your individual luck. The power from the African and Arab individuals gave us good vibes.

“Everybody was behind us and now we have made this unbelievable achievement and obtained into the historical past books. We’re into the very best 4 on the earth. These are great gamers and deserve all of the plaudits they get.

“We’ve proven individuals African groups can get to the semi-final, even the ultimate. Earlier within the event, I used to be requested if we will win the World Cup – why not? Why should not we dream?

“If you happen to do not dream, you aren’t getting wherever and goals do not value something. European groups are used to profitable the World Cup. Now now we have to get in there and transcend ourselves.”

‘This time for Africa’ – response

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