Morocco's Atlas Lions Make History
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be forever remembered as one of the most exciting in the history of the competition. Fans were treated to one of the all-time great finals on Sunday, as Argentina was crowned world champions for the third time in the most dramatic of fashion.
After a thrilling competition, fans were bracing themselves for a standout final, but few could have anticipated a 3-3 draw after extra time, with Kylian Mbappe scoring a hat-trick before Argentina sealed victory from the spot. However, one of the stories of the tournament was undeniably the success that Morocco achieved, as it became the first African nation to ever reach the semi-finals.
Morocco Breaks New Ground
There have been some standout performances from African teams throughout the history of the World Cup, but the best performance from a nation from the continent came in Qatar, as Morocco reached the final four. In doing so, they became the first African nation to ever reach the semi-final stage, and they were good value for that performance based on the performances that they put in throughout the competition.
Many had written off Morocco before the competition, including many of the best Arab sports betting sites. However, they grew as the competition progressed, and they looked set to top Group F after beating Belgium in their second game. That was followed by another professional display in their final Group F fixture, as they beat Canada 2-1. But, the bigger tests would still be to come as the knockout rounds got underway.
Inspiring A Generation In The Knockout Round
Even when the knockout round got underway, many were still expecting Morocco to be eliminated at the next stage. However, the African nation was excellent in the round of 16, as they defended heroically to play out a 0-0 draw against the highly talented Spanish. Then, it was Morocco that kept their cool from the spot, with Achraf Hakimi scoring a brave chip to win the shootout.
Once again, Morocco was the huge underdogs in the quarterfinals, as many expected Portugal to have far too much quality for the African nation. However, Morocco wasn’t playing by anybody else’s script throughout the tournament and stunned the 2016 European champions with a 1-0 win. Youssef En-Nesyri scored the winning goal with a brave header, which sent an entire continent into a frenzy. Once again, they were able to play out the final stages very confidently.
Dream Run Finally Ends
Morocco’s date with destiny finally arrived on December 14th, as the African nation became the first country from the continent to compete in the semi-final stage of the World Cup. However, they didn’t get off to the best start, as they found themselves 1-0 down after just five minutes. Morocco did look good value for an equalizer throughout the game, but the lack of quality in the final third was ultimately costly against the reigning world champions.
France eventually scored a second goal with ten minutes remaining to secure a second straight appearance in a World Cup final. There was clear disappointment among the Moroccan squad at the end of the match, but they certainly gave everything and if things would have gone slightly differently, then they may have forced extra time. But, the entire nation was still extremely proud of the effort that Morocco put in throughout the competition.
Morocco Finish Fourth
Defeat in the semi-final meant that Morocco needed to settle for a game in the third-place play-off in Qatar. Regardless of the result, they became the best-finishing nation from Africa in World Cup history. However, in that match, they looked fatigued given the effort that they had put into the competition, and they faded against a Croatian side that had an extra 24 hours of recovery time following their semi-final defeat against Argentina.
Morocco fell behind after just seven minutes but quickly hit back with a goal from Achraf Dari after nine minutes. However, Croatia eventually won the match with a bit of magic from Mislav Orsic with three minutes to go before the half-time break. But, incredible confidence would have been taken from all African nations that a first World Cup win for the continent may be edging closer.
It has been a famous winter World Cup for Morocco, and they would have been incredibly pleased with the performances that they put in throughout the tournament. A fourth-place finish would have seemed incredibly unlikely when the draw for the competition was made earlier in 2022, and great confidence could now be taken into their qualification campaign for the World Cup in four years.