The Morocco national team made history on Tuesday with their Round of 16 penalty shootout victory over Spain at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, becoming the first nation from the Arab World to advance to the quarterfinals of the world football showcase. Moroccans all around the world continue to celebrate the achievement of the Atlas Lions. “What a great day to be a Moroccan,” said Abdessamad to Al Jazeera reporters in Marrakech before remarking, “our team is on the road to something more magical, something bigger, something insane.”
King Mohammed VI made calls to Royal Moroccan Football Federation president Fouzi Lekjaa and Atlas Lions manager Walid Regragui to congratulate both on a job well done. Regragui, previously a champion of the CAF Champions League as manager of Casablanca giants Wydad AC, stated that “it’s extraordinary to receive the call from His Majesty…it makes us want to do more.” The 47-year-old former Morocco national team player praised the supporters and team for their faith and positive energy, a factor that made the difference between victory and defeat in a match of narrow margins.
Star goalkeeper Yassine Bounou acknowledged that the match could have gone either way: “The penalties, it’s a bit of intuition, a bit of luck…we won and that’s the most important.” Moroccan supporters continued to celebrate the victory overnight with television channels in the country dedicated to showing scenes of jubilation all throughout its cities and towns. Whatever the expectations are for Morocco’s quarterfinal matchup against Portugal on Saturday, the Atlas Lions have nothing to lose and are excited to carry the hopes of the Arab World and Africa on their shoulders.