DOHA (AP) – King Mohammed VI watched the spectacle in the streets of Rabat. From a distance Over the phone, semi-final opponent Emmanuel Macron and World Cup host Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani offered “heartfelt congratulations” for Morocco’s historic performance at the World Cup in Qatar.
The picture of a team of professionals in red shirts and green shorts on the lawn of Al-Thumama Stadium will forever live in the football history books: the Atlas Lions are the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, a celebration celebrated not only in Africa but also in the Arab world. in many parts of the world. And the coaches are already thinking about the really big coup.
world title? Permission to dream!
“Why shouldn’t we dream of winning the World Cup? It costs nothing to dream,” said Walid Regaragui after the quarter-final win against Portugal and superstar Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday evening in Doha. As national coach After just eight games in the US, the outsider’s dream trip now takes the 47-year-old, who was born in Corbeil-Essons, into a semi-final against France, which French President Macron will also follow in Qatar.
“In all corners of the African continent, in the Arab and Islamic worlds, the Lions had millions of supporters,” wrote Le Matin in Morocco.
For more than half-time, Regargui’s team had defended a 1-0 lead against the former European champions through Youssef An-Nesri (42nd minute). Even with unbridled passion when the first players were battling muscle cramps. Supporters celebrated every freed, every header duel won and every ball in the red, with every pass by the Portuguese, with deafening whistles.
“The coach didn’t say at half-time: Hope we can last 45 more minutes. But: Only 45 minutes left to make history, »said midfielder Bilal El Khanous afterwards.
When it was all over, Moroccan players and coaches threw Regargui into the air, as they had done in the penalty shoot-out victory over Spain. Midfielder Sofiane Boufal danced on the pitch with her mother. He later posted the picture on Instagram with the words: “God gives – thank God.”
Moroccan Keeper “Player of the Match”
Goalkeeper Bono later accepted the award as “Player of the Game” jubilant and already seasoned. “We had injuries, but we put in an incredible performance,” said the Sevilla FC professional. Smiling, he added during the press conference: “Pinch me, I think I’m dreaming.”
Africa and the World Cup – In 2010, hosts South Africa were knocked out in the preliminary round. Cameroon 1990, Senegal 2002 and Ghana 2010 have been World Cup quarter-finalists – but Morocco has long topped them all.
“We are very difficult to beat. That’s the message I want to send,” Regaragui said after the win. “It’s no wonder. Many consider it a miracle, especially in Europe. It’s no wonder, it’s the result of hard work.” The 52-cap Morocco international, a former defender, has ensured his side continue to progress through the tournament, conceding just one goal – a goal in a 2-1 win against Canada. Abdelhamid Sabiri, who grew up in Frankfurt and has already played for 1. FC Nürnberg and SC Paderborn, said: “It’s an indescribable feeling. Hopefully it stays like this.”
Moroccan coach: “We are Rocky”
“We have made so many people happy in the world,” said Regaragui, comparing himself to the boxer played by Sylvester Stallone in a famous film: “We are the Rocky of this World Cup. If you like Rocky Balboa, It’s because of his passion. You have to dream and believe in it.”
However, Morocco has also suffered a lot and is dealing with setbacks. Bayern Munich’s Nouser Mazrouei was ill against Portugal while West Ham’s Nayef Aguirre was injured. Besiktas Istanbul captain Romain Sais had to be carried off the pitch. Former Dortmunder Achraf Hakimi “felt bad, but he fought on”, according to the coach. In a hectic final leg, substitute Walid Chedira also appeared in yellow and red. «I have 26 players. If you want to win this tournament, you have to believe in everyone,” Regargui explained. “If someone gets injured or sick, the other one comes for it. I hope Mazrouei comes back, he will be part of the team. are very important to.”
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