Sheikh Hamdan congratulates Morocco as the Atlas Lions roar in the Qatar World Cup

The North African team last reached the knockout stage in the World Cup in 1986

Morocco players celebrate qualifying for the knockout stages. Photo: Reuters
Morocco players celebrate qualifying for the knockout stages. Photo: Reuters

By Web Desk

Published: Thu 1 Dec 2022, 10:15 PM

Morocco powered into the knockout stage for the first time in 36 years on Thursday with a 2-1 victory over Canada, flying the Arab flag high in the Qatar World Cup.

The North African team, who last reached the round of 16 in the World Cup in 1986, have consistently played at a high level with a draw against 2018 runner-up Croatia and a 2-0 drubbing of the world’s second rank team Belgium in earlier Group F fixtures.

Their roaring performance earned them praises from every corner, including the sports enthusiasts Dubai Crown Prince. "Congratulations to the Atlas Lions for this well-deserved qualification," wrote Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on his Twitter.

Sheikh Hamdan also congratulated the people of Moroccan as the squad was cheered on by a boisterous crowd of fans. Dubai Crown Prince wrote, "You made all the Arabs happy, from the ocean to the Gulf."

Goals from Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri ensured the North Africans finished top of Group F ahead of 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia.

Morocco will face the runners-up from Group E in the last 16.

Canada's defeat meanwhile capped a disappointing World Cup for the Concacaf side, who depart after losing all three of their group games on their long-awaited return to the finals.

Morocco put themselves firmly on course for the second round after upsetting Belgium 2-0 on Sunday, a result that left them needing only a point against Canada on Thursday to be sure of advancing.


More news from Sports