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Africa secures first place in semi-finals with Morocco victory at World Cup



When the whistle sounded at the end of Morocco’s match against Portugal in Doha, Qatar on Saturday, marking the North African country’s victory, cheers rang out across the African continent. The 1-0 victory gave Morocco a coveted place in the semi-finals of the World Cup – the first time an African team has reached this stage of the tournament.

“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” Kwabena Yeboah, a Ghanaian sports commentator for Ghana’s public broadcaster, GTV, shouted on live television as he clapped his hands to his panelists, unable to contain his joy.

Indestructible Morocco, darling of the World Cup, go to the semis

“Congratulations to our African brothers,” GTV Sports tweeted, along with the clip.

Morocco will face France on Wednesday – with a colonial past and modern migration stories as a backdrop. The winner of this match secures a place in the final on 18 December.

Morocco have had a superb run in the World Cup, beating several European powers: Belgium, Spain and now Portugal. Its success has sparked pride and a rare unity in the Arab world, evoking, for some, an earlier era of pan-Arab nationalism.

But Morocco is also an African country – and its football fortunes, say African fans, belong to the whole continent as well. From Ghana to Kenya via Tunisia, Egypt and Somalia, football fans have pinned their hopes on Morocco.

Game by game: Morocco stuns Portugal with 1-0 win

The last three African teams to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup have lost their matches, all in bitter finals: Cameroon lost 3-2 to England in 1990; Senegal, 1-0, against Turkey in 2002; and Ghana on penalties against Uruguay in 2010. But on Saturday, with a 42nd-minute goal from Youssef En-Nesyri, Morocco achieved the feat that had eluded those teams before them: a victory in the quarter final that went down in history.

“You really made us proud of #Morocco”, former Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo tweeted. “It’s a testament that Africa is rising and we are a force to be reckoned with.”

Samuel Eto’o, president of the Cameroonian football association, wrote“The whole continent supports you.”

Nationalism abounds at the World Cup. Throughout the tournament in Qatar, however, Morocco head coach Walid Regragui presented his team as representing all of Africa.

“I’m not here to play politics, we represent Morocco and obviously Morocco and Moroccans are my priority,” the French-born former Moroccan national team player told reporters earlier. in the tournament. “But obviously we are also African like Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon and Tunisia, so we hope to fly the flag of African football high.”

For the North Africans, the victory was extra sweet. Cars honked in the streets of Casablanca celebrating. Cheers could be heard throughout downtown Cairo, where fans crowded into cafes and drivers beeped in celebration. In Tunis, crowds gathered outside the National Theater on the Tunisian capital’s main thoroughfare, lighting flares and waving flags. In Tripoli, Libya, teenagers gathered in a public square watched the match impatiently. After Morocco’s victory, they raised the Moroccan and Libyan flags with delighted smiles.

On social media, some fans started circulating pop star Shakira’s theme song for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”.

Shakira herself weighed in with a Tweeter: “This time for Africa!!”

“We can dream, why wouldn’t we dream of winning the World Cup? Regragui, the Moroccan coach, told reporters on Saturday.

Chuck Culpepper in Doha, Qatar, and Siobhán O’Grady in Cairo contributed to this report.



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