Might a darkish horse win the World Cup?
Morocco wasn’t projected to even make it previous the group stage, and but on Saturday, the African nation will play closely favored Portugal within the quarterfinals in Qatar.
“Intention for the sky,” Morocco supervisor Walid Regragui mentioned, by way of ESPN. “We have to change our mentality, and we will likely be a troublesome group to beat. Why not dream about successful that trophy? As African groups, we have to set this goal.”
No African nation has gained soccer’s most prestigious event.
In successful Group F, Morocco performed 2018 runner-up Croatia to a scoreless draw and beat extremely regarded Belgium and CONCACAF champion Canada.
Morocco’s largest problem got here within the Spherical of 16 towards Spain, whom it beat in a penalty shootout.
It appeared solely becoming that Morocco defender Achraf Hakimi, who was born in Madrid, Spain, scored the penalty kick to punch his nation’s ticket into the quarterfinals. Ahead Hakim Ziyech additionally has performed a significant position for Morocco, scoring two objectives.
Towards Spain, goalkeeper Yassine Bounou made three penalty kick saves. His calm demeanor helped his teammates focus and consider in themselves.
With 20 gamers competing in main European leagues, Morocco has the expertise and depth to compete with any nation. Because the final African group within the competitors, it carries not solely the hopes of a continent, however the Arab world as properly. Islam is the predominant faith in Morocco.
“Earlier than it was simply the Moroccans who supported us,” Regragui mentioned, by way of CNN. “Now it’s the Africans and Arabs.”
Historical past is towards Morocco. No African nation has even superior to the World Cup semifinals. Within the spherical of 16, Portugal destroyed Switzerland, 6-1.
However every little thing appears to be falling into place for Morocco. As its supervisor says, why not dream huge?