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Arab world cheers Morocco’s historic football win

By Tara Lumley-Savile - Dec 08,2022 - Last updated at Dec 08,2022

Moroccans celebrate after their team won the Qatar 2022 World Cup round 16 football match between Morocco and Spain, in Rabat, on December 6, 2022 (AFP photo)

AMMAN — Morocco has made it through to the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-finals after winning a tense match against Spain earlier this week at the Education City Stadium in Doha. 

Morocco’s defeat of the 2010 world champions came after a remarkable performance that saw the North African team takes the goalless match during a final penalty shootout. Thanks to goalkeeper Yassine ‘Bono’ Bounou, Spain failed to score during the penalties. 

The final of Morocco’s three winning penalties was scored by Achraf Hakimi, a Madrid-born player of North-African origin who chose to play for Morocco over Spain.

This is not the first time Morocco has made it through to the final stages of the World Cup. In Mexico in 1986, they reached the knockout stages of the prize ultimately won by Argentina under Maradonna’s captaincy. 

However, this week’s match highlights a significant moment for the history of African and Arab football. Morocco is the only Arabic speaking team to have made it this far in Qatar. 

Significantly, the win created a platform to highlight the ongoing political and human rights violations in Palestine, with a number of players, including striker Abderrazak Hamdallah, raising the Palestinian flag on the pitch during the team’s victory celebration. 

The stance taken by the players has been widely praised by commentators, fans and across social media. The spectacular result has been welcomed with pride across the Arab world, including by other Arab sports professionals. 

In a tweet on Wednesday, Samar Nassar, General Secretary of the Jordan Football Association who competed as a swimmer for Palestine at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and for Jordan at the 2004 Summer Olympics called Morocco’s result a “journey of brilliance in the World Cup”. 

Jordanian Premiere League and National Team basketball player Freddy Ibrahim reflected on the deeper significance of the victory. 

“The win means a lot to the Arab community; it builds hope and confidence in our region…they are representing not just Morocco, but Palestine and all the Arab countries… [it] shows how much support they have,” Ibrahim told The Jordan Times.

Morocco goes on to face Portugal at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.

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