Skip to main content

Moroccans rejoice at reaching World Cup last 16

Moroccan fans celebrate in the capital Rabat after their team became the only one from an Arab nation to reach the World Cup second round
— Salé (Morocco) (AFP)

Ecstatic Moroccans celebrated on Thursday after their team qualified for the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

"We've waited 36 years," one fan cried after the Atlas Lions beat Canada 2-1 to storm into the round of 16 as winners of their group.

In 1986, the football-obsessed North African nation became the first African or Arab country ever to reach the knockout stages, before many of the current players were born.

On Thursday, the iconic Avenue Mohammed V through central Rabat thronged with supporters wrapped in the country's red flag with its green star, setting off firecrackers as drivers honked their horns.

Fans in Rabat watch Morocco's 2-1 defeat of Canada which sent them into the World Cup second round for the first time in 36 years

Heavy rain, a welcome sight in the drought-stricken country, cleared up before the final whistle as men, women and children poured into the streets to celebrate.

Cafes had been packed for the match and even banks had closed early to allow people to watch.

"I was stressed about the match but they blew us away," said Houda, 34, who was watching at a cafe with her daughter.

Morocco had gone from a draw with Croatia to a spectacular win on Sunday against Belgium before beating Canada, a huge boost for coach Walid Regragui, who has been in the job for just three months.

According to opinion polls, a fifth of Moroccans believe their team will reach the semi-final, and national carrier Royal Air Maroc has put on special flights to ferry fans back and forth from Qatar.

Maths teacher Mehdi Dida said his joy had "no limits."

A fan celebrated by jumping into a fountain outside Rabat's Central Railway Station

"It's a historic moment to see the Moroccan flag so high and see our players give their all for their country," he said.

One social media user wrote that people his father's age continually talked about the team of 1986.

"In 20 years' time, I'll be able to tell my children about the team of 2022," he wrote. "It's historic!"

isb-hic-kao-agr/par/gj

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial