Beautiful to see even Indians supporting us in the World Cup, say Morocco fans

Neutral sports lovers normally tend to root for the underdog in a contest, but Ali says his team’s run to the semi-final is not a fluke

By Rituraj Borkakoty in Doha

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(From left) Meryem, Ali and Madjid. Photo: Rituraj Borkakoty
(From left) Meryem, Ali and Madjid. Photo: Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sun 11 Dec 2022, 6:27 PM

When Ali left Morocco a few years ago for Qatar, the football fan in him was excited that he would be able to attend an event like the World Cup.

But never in his wildest imagination did he see Morocco go on a giant-killing run to reach the semi-finals in the world’s greatest sporting event.

“We feel very blessed to be living in Qatar and experiencing this amazing Moroccan journey at the World Cup,” Ali told this reporter after I bumped into him at Al Bayt Stadium following France’s win over England.

“It’s amazing to be in this moment, watching the Moroccan matches, they have made history. They are in the semi-finals of a World Cup.

“It’s beautiful. It’s not just for Morocco, it’s a victory for the whole Arab world. You can see I have my friend here with me from Algeria, Madjid. He has been with us supporting Morocco.”

But what surprised Ali at Al Thumama Stadium where Morocco played Portugal on Saturday was the support his team received from the non-Arab fans.

“When we went to the game today (Saturday) against Portugal, there were so many people from the non-Arab region that were supporting us,” he said.

“I saw many Indians in the stadium who were supporting Morocco. That was something very beautiful to see at the stadium.”

Neutral sports lovers normally tend to root for the underdog in a contest, but Ali says his team’s run to the semi-final is not a fluke.

Morocco topped Group F featuring European heavyweights Croatia, Belgium and Canada with seven points.

The highlight of their group campaign was their stunning 2-0 win over the star-studded Belgium, the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists.

Then the North Africans beat Spain in the round of 16 and Portugal in the quarter-finals to continue their dream run.

“We have beaten Belgium, Canada, Spain and Portugal to reach this level. Three of those four teams are football giants. And we have beaten them all to reach the semi-finals,” he said.

Madjid, Ali’s friend from Algeria, says Morocco’s performance is not a surprise.

“They have a very good team. The team have some good players and they know how to win matches. So for me, it’s normal for this Moroccan team to reach the semi-finals. I think they can even reach the final,” he said.

Morocco’s fairtytale run has also broken the stranglehold of a few football powerhouses.


“Morocco reaching the semi-finals is also great for football because you have a new team. Otherwise, it’s always the same big teams that reach the semi-finals,” Ali said.

“I think football needed a new team and Morocco have become that new team by playing with a lot of passion.

“But, you know, in North African countries like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, we are born with football. We have a talent for football.

“And most of the Moroccan players, they live in Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and England where they play club football.”

Meanwhile, Meryem, Alis wife, will always be proud of this Moroccan team regardless of their result in the semi-final against defending champions France.

“We want more. But we are already proud of our team even if they lose to France. For us, they are already world champions,” she said.

“What they have done is just amazing. They have made history. Millions of people are in the streets in Morocco to celebrate and even our King was in the street to celebrate with the people. What more can we ask for?”

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