Africa, Arab world hail Morocco’s World Cup Cinderella run
'We are really proud of this team' | 'We are proud to see people from different countries root for the Moroccan team' | 'Thank you for making us dream'
Soccer fans across the Arab and African world were crushed on Wednesday after Morocco’s semifinal defeat to France, but continued to revel in a collective sense of pride from the underdog’s historic World Cup run.
In the first World Cup held in an Arab country, Morocco was seen as a symbol of regional unity as the first Arab team to reach the quarterfinals and the first African team to reach the semis. But even as cup favorites France put an end to the Atlas Lions’ Cinderella run, fans from Rabat to Beirut stood proud.
In the Moroccan capital of Rabat, where fans packed cafés and restaurants to tune into the upset-heavy tournament, crowds applauded their team despite the loss.
"It is an honor and we are proud to see people from different countries root for the Moroccan team," said Moroccan fan Taoufiq Ouchikh.
"If I had 300,000 [Moroccan] shirts, I would have sold them all in the last two days," said Saeed al-Ramahi, a shop owner in the West Bank.
At a café in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Moroccan fan Sanaa Kassemi waved her country’s flag amid cheering French supporters. Elsewhere in Lebanon, Palestinian refugee Ahmad Iskandar said he felt particularly proud that a team with Arab and Islamic roots had gone so far. In Saudi Arabia, Fahad al-Dawsari said it would inspire people in the region to dream that they might one day reach a final: "What Morocco did will encourage the Arab national teams."
African fans also voiced pride in Morocco’s stunning World Cup bout.
"I am not disappointed at all. Morocco made a lot of effort," said Michael Fogang in the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde. In other North African states – culturally close to Morocco – their success was particularly felt. "Thank you for making us dream," said Lamia Mssedi, a woman watching the game in Tunisia.