Ecstatic Moroccans celebrate World Cup victory over Portugal
The capital, Rabat, was bursting with joy while Morocco fans also celebrated in the streets of Doha and in cities across Europe, where many Moroccans live.
RABAT: Ecstatic Moroccans poured into the streets of their capital and in cities across the North African country on Saturday, waving flags, honking horns and lighting flares to celebrate the national soccer team’s historic victory over Portugal at the World Cup.
Morocco beat the Portuguese 1-0 in Qatar, knocking Cristiano Ronaldo out of the tournament and making the Atlas Lions the first African and first Arab team to reach the World Cup semifinals.
The capital, Rabat, was bursting with joy while Morocco fans also celebrated in the streets of Doha and in cities across Europe, where many Moroccans live. Other fans from the Middle East and Africa who have adopted the Atlas Lions as their team were also jubilant.
“We were so stressed as if we were on the pitch with the players, but now we want the trophy,” said Mohamed Amine, who was celebrating in Rabat. “The players, this team lifted Morocco’s reputation high among the nations of the world.”
The victory has Morocco fans full of confidence for the days ahead. The team will face either France or England in the semifinals on Wednesday.
“I am so happy that I don’t even know if I can express myself, but if we are here now, I believe that we can make it to the final,” Yasmine Benmehredj said during celebrations in the Moroccan capital. “I think we can win this World Cup.”
In Qatar, hundreds of elated fans clad in green and red outside Al Thumama Stadium celebrated Morocco’s win, chanting, ululating, banging on drums and waving the national flag. Some chanted: “Congratulations to us for this beginning! It will only go on and on!”
“This is unbelievable. It’s the first time ever,” said Saleh al-Rayes, a 27-year-old fan from Saudi Arabia in Doha.
As an Arab at the first World Cup held in the Middle East, al-Rayes said he feels a sense of inclusion and representation in the world of soccer, a spot that has been dominated by European and South American teams.
“You come in as an underdog and then you win. It’s Arab pride,” al-Rayes said. “All Arab countries were here in the stadium supporting Morocco.”
Morocco’s phenomenal run in Qatar also reverberated across Africa on Saturday.
“Continental history!” the Confederation of African Football wrote on Twitter after Morocco’s victory.
“Historic and fantastic,” African Union chair and Senegalese President Macky Sall wrote in a tweet.
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