Macron congratulates Morocco on 'this beautiful journey', salutes France and Deschamps

The French president was at Al Bayt Stadium, where Didier Deschamps' side overcame the Atlas Lions 2-0

By Stats Perform

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French President Emmanuel Macron celebrates after France won the Qatar 2022 World Cup semi-final. Photo: AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron celebrates after France won the Qatar 2022 World Cup semi-final. Photo: AFP

Published: Thu 15 Dec 2022, 2:32 AM

Last updated: Thu 15 Dec 2022, 2:36 AM

Morocco had a shot at becoming the first African nation to reach a World Cup final, but France are now poised to become the first team to retain their World Cup title in 60 years on Sunday.

Supporters poured into Paris's freezing Champs-Elysees boulevard on Wednesday after a World Cup semi-final between France and Morocco which for millions tugged at the heartstrings, as "Les Bleus" won 2-0 to reach the final for a second time in a row.


Champs-Elysees. Photo: Reuters
Champs-Elysees. Photo: Reuters

The French president was at Al Bayt Stadium where Didier Deschamps' side overcame the Atlas Lions 2-0, with goals from Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani setting up a clash with Argentina in Sunday's showpiece.

Macron paid tribute to the players, who he visited in the dressing room after the game, while giving his backing to head coach Deschamps.


France's Theo Hernandez celebrates. Photo: Reuters
France's Theo Hernandez celebrates. Photo: Reuters

"Our compatriots need simple and pure joy, sport provides it and soccer in particular. I am much better now than I was an hour and a half ago," Macron said.

"We suffered a lot but we saw a great team. A huge thank you to our coach and to this team which is in fact a mixture of several generations and that is what is great."

"Deschamps is here, with his luck and his talent. We bring back the Cup and of course Deschamps has to stay. This French team makes me very proud."

In the first World Cup held in an Arab country, and one already marked by upsets, Morocco won supporters far afield as the first Arab team to reach the quarter-finals and the first African team to reach the semis.

Macron also congratulated the Moroccan team: "To our Moroccan friends: congratulations on this beautiful journey. You mark the history of football," and tweeted a photograph of French forward Kylian Mbappé hugging his good friend Achraf Hakimi of the Morocco national team after the game.

France is home to a large Moroccan community, many of whom have dual citizenship. The stakes were high on both sides.

The defending champions took the lead in the fifth minute through defender Theo Hernandez before Randal Kolo Muani added another in the 79th to seal their fourth final appearance in the last seven editions.

"There's emotion, there's pride, there's going to be a final step," said Deschamps, who led them to the 2018 world title.

"We have been together with the players for a month, it's never easy. There's happiness so far."

Deschamps is only the fourth manager to lead a nation to back-to-back World Cup finals and France will be bidding to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to retain the title.

"Playing two World Cup finals in a row is an incredible moment," said Hernandez.

"We did a good job. It was hard, but we are in the final.

"We will work hard to win this final. I also have a big thought for my brother," he added referring to Lucas Hernandez, who has been sidelined since suffering a serious knee injury in France's opening 4-1 group stage win over Australia.

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