Morocco is Africa’s last hope at the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar, heading into their clash against a fancied Spanish team at the Education City Stadium. They are one win from rewriting history and here’s why I feel like they can do it!
An impassioned Morocco side will carry the hopes of the African Continent on their shoulders when they take the field against the 2010 world champions – Spain in their World Cup last 16 clash on Tuesday evening.
Al Rayyan city will come to a standstill when these two great nations face each other inside the iconic Education City Stadium, and for good reason – as they both have had an outstanding tournament.
Having drawn with Croatia and beaten Canada along with second-ranked Belgium, Morocco had the entire continent dreaming again, and will surely be more than motivated to pull off yet another upset and add to their electrifying start to this World Cup campaign.
Granted, they face a young, revived and poised Spanish team, well-led on and off the pitch however this will not at all be an easy game for Luis Enrique’s men.
The Lions of Atlas have gone about their footballing business in true under-the-radar fashion, defying the odds stacked against them to top Group F ahead of Croatia and Belgium to set up only their second-ever appearance in the knockout phase.
Not only are they the only African side still in Qatar (with Cameroon, Tunisia, Ghana and recently Senegal all crashed out), they are also the only Arab team left standing in the competition and will enjoy significant support in what is expected to be a sold-out affair at the Education City.
And if you are wondering about the foundation of Morocco’s success, look no further than the FRMF (Royal Moroccan Football Federation) – who have demonstrated a strong desire to continue the country’s development by making resources available to the youth sides that represent the future of Moroccan football.
To top it all off in style, the FRMF brought in coach Walid Regragui to take charge of this team following the departure of Vahid Halilhodzic in late August, and it didn’t take very long for him to impose a focused, determined mentality amongst a group of players eager to impress.
Regragui was only 10 years old when Mohamed Timoumi, Abdelkrim Merry and goalkeeper-captain Badou Zaki inspired the Atlas Lions to become the first African side to reach the knockout stages of a World Cup, courtesy of a 3-1 win against Portugal.
36 years on, Morocco are yet again the last hope of Africa at the global showdown, hoping to summon the spirit of not only their countrymen, but also the entire continent of Africa as they prepare for their toughest battle yet.
And while the Spaniards are undoubtably one of the world’s power houses in football, I have to confidently agree with Morocco’s goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou who said, “Spain will force us to be at our best. We are thoroughly prepared. We have got better and better with each passing game, and I’m sure we’ll be in good shape. We want to make our people happy.”