How Morocco rewrote the World Cup history books against Portugal | News World Cup Qatar 2022

Doha, Qatar – At 7:58 p.m., history was made.

As the crowd chanted ‘ole, ole, ole’, Morocco’s substitutes and coaching staff urged the referee to blow the final whistle. The majority of the 44,198 people in the stands joined them.

There were whistles, cheers, applause and tears. In the midst of it all there were prayers on lips and in hearts

At 7:58 p.m., the referee answered these calls.

At 7:58 p.m., those prayers were also answered.

At 7:58 p.m., Morocco, to the surprise of the world and the disbelief of Moroccans themselves, sealed a stunning victory over Portugal and became the first African team and the first Arab to reach a semi-final of Football World Cup.

The Moroccan outfit – which at the start of the World Cup annoyed their opponents, then alarmed them – ultimately left them dismayed.

Morocco v Portugal,
Morocco have conceded only one goal in the tournament so far, and it was an own goal [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

On the field, some players were hunched over. Others are lying on the grass. Some ran aimlessly in circles with their hands raised in the air, unsure how to celebrate a feat no other team on the continent had achieved in the 92-year history of the World Cups.

Noise inside the stadium reached unprecedented levels. Heart rates are reaching dangerous peaks. Few cared about their ears, health and well-being.

“It’s amazing. It’s great,” said Jalil, who traveled from Casablanca to Doha for the World Cup, amid swearing cries to describe the state of his mind.

“Being able to do it for the first time is amazing,” he said. “I wasn’t there 36 years ago when they last got knockouts, but I’m here tonight when they did better. And better than every other team in the region.

Inside the stadium, Oussame Ramzi, a well-known Moroccan comedian, collapsed on the floor of the stand in which he was standing, his eyes bulging. He was speechless. People posed for selfies with him. He didn’t utter a single word. This is what this historic victory means for Moroccans.

“Wallah [by God], we feel good, good, good. We feel better than anything we’ve felt. It’s good. Beyond Words. Look at my friend, he’s crying,” said a friend of Ramzi’s who quickly joined a group taking selfies with the comedian.

“First time. First time. Wow Wow. History is made,” said Lubna, who came to Qatar from Rabat just for the quarter-final. whoever it is. We can win it.

Morocco supporters
Fans welcome Morocco’s victory against Portugal with pure joy [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

A huge roar went up inside the stadium as the players approached the crowd in a celebratory trick. The Viking thunderclap had given way to punches and waved flags.

Gradually, the celebration moved from the stands to the foyer, then to the stairs and finally to the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha. A small concert area set up by FIFA was now full of red and green.

“I bought tickets for all three group matches. I’m surprised to still be here,” Sami said with a cheeky smile. “Surprised but super happy. I will change my plane ticket again shortly. I am so happy to be here, to witness this.

Reem, Najma and Lubna were three other Moroccan fans who traveled to Doha just for the game against Portugal.

“We’re going back tomorrow morning, but we’ll be back for the semi-final,” Reem said. “Work can take a back seat. In Morocco, no one will care. We are all in World Cup fever.

Morocco are undefeated in the tournament so far with a record of four wins and one draw. Three of those four victories have come against teams ranked higher than them: Belgium, Spain and Portugal. The bar is now set high, expectations have reached unprecedented levels and optimism is at its height.

For some, however, two more wins will be more than they could ask for, and the team has already done more than enough to win over the fans.

“I think we can do everything now,” said Lamia from Casablanca. “For me, the World Cup is already won. With Morocco having come this far in the tournament, it means the whole world to me. Winning or not in the semi-finals, hearts have been won.

Fans celebrate outside Al Thumama Stadium after the game [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

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