DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Africa finally has a team in the World Cup semifinals, and so does the Arab world.
Morocco delivered a seminal moment in the nearly 100-year history of soccer’s biggest tournament, beating Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal team 1-0 Saturday in another shocking result in the first World Cup staged in the Middle East.
While a tearful Ronaldo headed right down the tunnel — and maybe into international retirement — after the final whistle, Morocco’s players tossed their coach in the air and waved their country’s flag as they linked arms in front of celebrating fans.
“Pinch me, I’m dreaming,” Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou said. “Morocco is ready to face anyone in the world. We have changed the mentality of the generation coming after us. They’ll know Moroccan players can create miracles.”
Youssef En-Nesyri scored the winning goal in the 42nd minute to continue an improbable run that has generated an outpouring of pride in the Arab world, inspiring displays in Arab identity from fans in different countries.
Africa is also rejoicing at finally having a nation advancing to the levels typically only reached by European or South American teams. Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) all reached the quarterfinals but got no further.