Saudi Arabia's shock defeat of Argentina, Morocco's dream run: Top 5 proudest moments for Arabs in Qatar World Cup

As football's biggest event draws to a close, Khaleej Times takes a look at the tournament most fulfilling moments for Arabs everywhere

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 19 Dec 2022, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 19 Dec 2022, 9:17 PM

The Fifa World Cup 2022 is drawing to a thrilling finish, with Argentina and France all set to battle it out at the Lusail stadium. As fans and spectators prepare to go home with incredible memories of yet another successful World Cup, KT looks at 5 of the proudest moments for the Arab world during the tournament.

Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup

Described by Fifa president Gianni Infantino as the best World Cup ever, it was a moment of immense pride for the entire Arab world when one of the biggest global sporting competitions came to the region. Some of the highlights of the tournament were matches that were played without incident; a woman refereeing a men’s Fifa World Cup match for the first time, and the organisers being commended for a smoothly organised tournament.

Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman and singer Jung Kook from Korean band BTS featured at the opening ceremony, that beautifully showcased Qatari culture and heritage.

Saudi’s defeat of Argentina

It was with stunned silence that the world watched the shock defeat of Argentina at the hands of Saudi Arabia. Considered one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, Messi’s team’s 36-match winning streak was brought to a grinding halt by the Green Falcons, who are 48 places below Argentina in world ranking.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia observed the victory by announcing a national holiday the following day, and fans were seen celebrating for days after the game. It was truly one of the proudest moments for Arabs everywhere.

Tunisia’s defeat of France

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group D - Tunisia v France - Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - November 30, 2022Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates REUTERS/Carl Recine
Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group D - Tunisia v France - Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - November 30, 2022Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates REUTERS/Carl Recine

In yet another World Cup upset, Tunisia stunned title holders France with a 1-0 defeat. French-born Wahbi Khazri scored the goal that ensured victory for the Arab country. However, their victory went in vain when the simultaneously held match between Australia and Denmark ended with a victory for the former, and they qualified – along with France from group D.

Despite the elimination, the Tunisian team’s victory over giants France, who are favorites to lift the World Cup, will go down in history as a moment of sheer joy for Arabs.

Morocco’s dream run

The Atlas Lions scripted history by becoming the first ever Arab country to qualify for the semifinals of a Fifa World Cup ever. The Moroccan team, led by centre-back Romain Saiss, reached the final stages of the tournament without conceding a single goal, all while beating world class teams like Spain and Portugal.

From prostrating on the field after their wins to bringing their mothers to the pitch to celebrate their victory, Morocco gifted several precious moments to their fans and became a symbol of Arab pride and hope during their dream run. They were placed fourth in the tournament after their defeat to France during the semifinals, and then to Croatia in the third-place playoffs.

Uniting beyond borders

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani receives President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Doha, Qatar December 5, 2022. Amiri Diwan/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani receives President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Doha, Qatar December 5, 2022. Amiri Diwan/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

From cheering for each other’s teams to coming to the support of Qatar through all the challenges of pulling off a world class event, the Fifa World Cup became a rare event that united the Arab world for a single cause. For the opening ceremony, the emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim, was joined by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah – showcasing the unity among the neighbouring countries of the Arab world. Indeed, the tournament was a truly spectacular event that even transcended borders and politics.


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