Sport

SOCCER

Morocco’s raucous supporters spur team into World Cup round of 16

Morocco’s raucous supporters spur team into World Cup round of 16
Morocco fans show their support during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Canada and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on 1 December, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Morocco beat Canada 2-1 in their final Qatar 2022 World Cup Group F game, to finish at the summit of a mini-league which had Belgium, Croatia and Canada. Thanks, in large, to their raucous support base.  

Morocco’s red-clad army of fans added an extra decibel or two to the last bars of the national anthem before kickoff, sounding a deafening warning to Canada as they willed their team to victory in their Group F game on Thursday and top spot in the standings.

It was a spine-tingling start to yet another match where Moroccan supporters, many of whom live and work in Qatar, packed out the stadium and nearly raised the roof — handing their side a distinct advantage.

An early goal added to the clamour as the north Africans quickly set about beating Canada and securing their place in the next round, finishing ahead of 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia and eliminating the highly fancied Belgium who are second in the Fifa rankings.

Sofiane Boufal of Morocco and Junior Hoilett of Canada

Sofiane Boufal of Morocco and Junior Hoilett of Canada compete for the ball during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Canada and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on 1 December, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

If ever there was a side at this World Cup with a veritable 12th man, it is the Moroccans whose level of play at the tournament has been raised a notch or two by the vociferous support.

It carried them through a fatigue-filled second half against Canada at the Al Thumama stadium and was certainly the decisive factor last Sunday when they beat Belgium to set up their unexpected progress to the round of 16.

With 20 minutes left against Belgium, and the score still 0-0, Morocco were visibly tiring, the ferocity of the tussle taking its toll on players who rarely play in matches of such intensity.

The din of a concerned crowd transformed into a tumultuous racket when Abdelhamid Sabiri’s free kick caught out Thibaut Courtois at his near post and captain Romain Saiss added a slight touch to see Morocco into the lead.

Youssef En-Nesyri of Morocco

Youssef En-Nesyri of Morocco celebrates after scoring the team’s second goal during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Canada and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on 1 December, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)


Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations


The supporters’ enthusiasm injected a second wind into the players’ legs — so much so that they were able to see off Belgium’s desperate efforts to get back into the game and go on and add a second goal for a famous victory.

“There is no doubt they played a huge role in lifting us,” said Morocco’s key attacker Hakim Ziyech after that match.

That continued against Canada on Thursday and Morocco will certainly need it for their next match versus Spain on Tuesday.

A fan of Morocco with a sign saying "proud"

A fan of Morocco with a sign saying “proud” during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Canada and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on 1 December, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

National anthem

That the Moroccan anthem is sung with such passion at a footballing arena is no coincidence.

The ‘Hymne Cherifien’ has a special connection with the World Cup. After its independence, Morocco did not have lyrics for the national anthem but when it qualified for the first time for the 1970 finals, their king commissioned words to go with the music.

“Let’s go brothers. Heading for grandeur,” are among the final lines.

Morocco fans celebrate in Souq Waqif

Morocco fans celebrate in Souq Waqif after getting through to the Round of 16 during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 on 1 December, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Morocco will now also be able to count on unbridled support from across the region in this first World Cup hosted by an Arab nation.

Hosts Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia are all out, leaving the Moroccans to fly the flag.

It can only mean more support and even more energy in their quest to get to the business end of the tournament. Reuters/DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

X

This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.


Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.