ᑕ❶ᑐ World Cup 2022: Morocco dream of defeating France in the semi-finals
|Host country: Qatar Destination: November 20-December 18 Cover: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Daily TV programs – Full coverage details|
The dream was over but there was no sadness, just pure pride.
Morocco lit up this World Cup with an unlikely run to the semi-finals, where their hopes of a shock triumph were dashed by defending champions France.
Walid Regraghi’s men made history by becoming the first African and Arab nation to reach this stage of the competition, but ultimately fell short.
Theo Hernandez’s goal after five minutes was the worst possible start for Morocco and substitute Randal Kolo Muani added the second. France arranged a meeting with Argentina in the final on Sunday
“We gave it our all and we gave it our all,” Regragui said. “We caused them problems and that’s quite an achievement.
“My players showed a very good image and quality of the team. Hard to buy, they wanted to rewrite the history books.
“You can’t win the World Cup with miracles, only with hard work and we will continue to do that. »
- “France’s victory prepares for the final and the coveted duel”
- How the players scored in the French-Moroccan semi-final
Morocco fans ‘were fantastic’
Moroccan fans took over Doha’s Souq Wagif in the early hours of the morning.
It’s a gathering place for fans of all rival nations in the Qatari capital, although the French jersey was a rare sight on the occasion.
The Moroccans had traveled in large numbers and national carrier Royal Air Maroc had scheduled extra flights for the semi-finals.
Some gave interviews to various television and radio stations around the world, and some drank local garak tea.
Fragrant hookah tobacco filled the air as they smoked in the afternoon to calm their nerves.
The Al Bayt stadium could have been mistaken for a home game in Casablanca, with the tiny French supporters behind the goal far outnumbering their red-shirted counterparts waving their red flags.
The volume of noise generated by the North African team’s results increased as those familiar piercing whistles echoed around the stadium as France’s score sheet was read out before kick-off.
With left-back Hernandez back on, they were silenced just five minutes into the game and their supporters watched in disbelief at their first shock start to being behind in this FIFA Cup.
The fans woke up and continued to chant “Dima Maghreb (Morocco forever)” as they had done throughout the tournament, but Kolo Mouani struck the final blow.
“I loved it,” former England defender Micah Richards told BBC One. “One of my favorite games in the World Cup.
“The crowd is great and the atmosphere is absolutely electric. »
Former England captain Alan Shearer added: “Morocco can be very, very proud of what they did and achieved and the effort they put in, not just today but throughout the tournament.
“Their fans had a fantastic time and enjoyed it. Their team was simply relegated because of their lack of quality in the final third. »
“We understand that we are doing a great job”
The third-fourth place game in the World Cup is often a game that no one wants to attend.
Try saying that in Morocco.
They have beaten European heavyweights Belgium, Spain and Portugal and will seal an entirely unexpected third place finish by defeating Croatia at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.
Former Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal and Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri prayed together on the pitch before kick-off, but there was no divine intervention.
Morocco won the hearts of the world with the passion of their fans and their progress on the pitch.
Whether it’s hugging their moms in the stands or dancing with them on the field, post-game celebrations have gone viral.
But there was understandable frustration as a delighted Kylian Mbappe changed shirts and shared a warm hug with Paris St-Germain team-mate Achraf Hakimi.
Meanwhile, captain Romain Saiss, injured early in the game, returned to the field one last time carrying his son as he wondered what might have been.
Injury problems proved costly for Morocco as they also lost West Ham defender Nayef Aguerd before kick-off and Bayern Munich defender Noussair Mazraoui was withdrawn at half-time.
At the end, the players bowed for sajdah (prostration) before their devotees, giving them a slow cheer before leaving the stage.
“The losers call the game on Saturday,” Mohammed, a Moroccan fan from the Rabat region, told BBC Sport. “Third place would mean the world to us because we achieved the unexpected.
“There are no tears today because we are proud of what these players have done for the fans and the country. »
Regragui added: “Maybe it was a step too far, we ran away physically and had a lot of players at 60 or 70 percent fitness and now we are a few games in.
“We understand that we have done a great job. We saw the images in the media, on television, on social networks, and we saw that everyone is proud of us. We wanted to live the dream of the Moroccan people and we were disappointed.
“We thought we could go further, but it’s the little details that make the real champions.
“We created a good image of our country and African football. We represented our continent. People have always respected us, but maybe they will respect us more now. »
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