Tens of thousands of Moroccans welcomed the national team on Tuesday as the players surpassed the North African nation’s wildest expectations to finish fourth at the World Cup in Qatar.
Fans packed the squares and lined the avenues and streets of Rabat and the surrounding area, lighting torches, waving flags, dancing to the beat of drums, and cheering as an open-top bus carried the players in suits and ties and trudged into the capital. with a police escort.
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Smiling players and coach Walid Regraghi waved, kissed and took selfies against the backdrop of a cheering crowd and swinging palm fountains.
At some points along the parade route, people spilled from the sidewalks onto the four-lane highway carrying the bus. King Mohammed VI slowed the car on its way to the royal palace where the players were waiting to “celebrate their great and historic achievement”.
As the first African or Arab team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, the Moroccan team known as the Lions of Atlas made history and became one of the great success stories of the tournament, the first to be hosted by an Arab nation.
The team lost to France in the semi-finals after defeating former European colonial powers Belgium, Spain and Portugal. His record performance earned the players a hero’s welcome.
“Morocco’s run at the 2022 FIFA World Cup will go down in the history books as one of the most exciting campaigns since the tournament’s inception,” said 27-year-old cafe owner Reda Ghazi. to win something, especially because Morocco is a country with a strong passion for football.”
Morocco beat Croatia 1-2 in the third-place play-off on Saturday, beating the expectations of many Moroccans and finishing fourth in the competition.
“I still can’t say what happened in this World Cup,” added student Anour El Berkaoui, 23. “The team has now set the bar so high that we will not be satisfied with anything other than winning the upcoming African Cup of Nations.”
The Moroccan team has impressed many Arab football fans, who have represented themselves in the team. After their victory, the players waved the Palestinian flag and celebrated with mothers and children on the field.
The team also provided support across Africa.
“As an African team, we broke many records and made the whole continent proud,” said Rabat resident Omar Zorganeh.
“Morocco as a whole will gain a lot from this year’s World Cup, from tourism to attracting the attention of other countries to perhaps hosting one of the biggest tournaments in the world in the future,” he said.