Giant killers: Morocco take down football greats for the third time this World Cup

The Atlas Lions have been the biggest surprise of the tournament so far and there’s no reason why the squad cannot go all the way to the title


By Agencies

Published: Sat 10 Dec 2022, 11:37 PM

For Morocco, December 10, 2022 is a date that will be inscribed in history books after the Atlas Lions crushed Portugal to become the first African nation to reach the World Cup semis.

The country has now defeated three of Europe's strongest teams in Qatar — and drawn 0-0 with 2018 runners-up Croatia in their opening match. What's more, they have so far refused to concede a single goal to the opposition. Take a look:

Believe it, Belgium


Morocco claimed their first World Cup victory in 24 years on November 27 as they upset a hugely disappointing Belgium side 2-0 with goals by Romain Saiss and substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal in a boiling atmosphere on Sunday.

Sabiri curled a wide free kick past Thibaut Courtois before Aboukhlal netted in added time to put Morocco top of Group F with four points, one ahead of Belgium. It was Morocco's first win at a World Cup since they beat Scotland in 1998.

Spain struck out

Earlier this month, it dumped Spain out of the World Cup in a last-16 penalty shootout with Spanish-born Achraf Hakimi scoring the decisive spot-kick after Spain squandered all three of their attempts, following a 0-0 draw over 120 minutes.

Hakimi, a product of the Real Madrid youth system, calmly slotted his penalty past Unai Simon in Spain's goal to seal his team's 3-0 win in the shootout, making Morocco only the fourth African country to reach the quarterfinals at the biggest soccer tournament in the world.

Portugal sent packing


Morocco’s extraordinary run in Qatar continued on Saturday as they claimed another massive scalp in beating Portugal 1-0 to become the first African and Arab country to reach the World Cup semi-finals.

A hugely significant victory broke new ground for the game outside of Europe and South America, who have been the dominant force in the sport, winning all 21 previous editions of the World Cup. The result could also go a long way towards vindicating the decision to host the tournament in the Middle East.

Speeding towards the finals

Morocco has been the biggest surprise of the tournament so far and there’s no reason why the squad — coached by French-born Walid Regragui and containing 14 players born abroad — cannot go all the way to the title.

“We have gone into the history books,” Regragui said earlier. “We have made the continent and our people happy and proud.”

Winger Sofiane Boufal told reporters, "It's crazy. We're living and dream and we don't want to wake up. I have goosebumps," he said. "Everything we have, we deserve. We work hard. It's not over. There's still the semi-final and God willing, the final."


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