Before the World Cup started, no one would have considered Morocco anything more than an underdog.
But on Tuesday night, December 6, 2022, Morocco became the first Arab country to reach the quarter-finals and one of the biggest stories of this World Cup after topping a difficult group, featuring powerhouses Belgium and Croatia.
While the team has garnered notice for their positive play, the fans have made bigger headlines, from the large numbers that have converged at the first World Cup to be hosted by an Arab State, to the fantastic noise and atmosphere they bring to the games.
The last Arab and African side left in the World Cup, Morocco have been willed on by some of the most impassioned fans at the tournament who arrived at the Education City stadium with their ear-splitting volume turned up high even before kickoff.
Such was the presence of the Moroccan supporters that Spain Coach Luis Enrique gave the ‘Red Army’ at least partial credit for his men misfiring on all three of their penalty shootout attempts after the game finished goalless following extra time.
Morocco is about 5,000 kilometres from Qatar, and whilst not the closest competing nation, it is far closer than many European, Asian or countries from the Americas, which explains why there is such huge support for the team at the stadiums.
The victory over Spain, which once ruled swathes of Morocco and where many Moroccans now live, may have felt particularly sweet. At its closest point, Morocco is just 14 miles away from Spain.
- FIFA WORLD CUP 2022
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