tens of thousands of moroccans jubilantly welcomed their national soccer team, which exceeded the most optimistic forecasts and placed fourth in the World Cup in Qatar.
The fans filled the squares, avenues and streets, both in Rabat and its surroundings. They lit flares, waved flags, danced to the beat of drums and cheered as the open-top bus carried the team around the capital on Tuesday, escorted by police.
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Smiling, the players and coach Walid Rangragui greeted the crowd and blew kisses. Others took selfies, with the crowd and palm trees in the background.
At some points along the route, the crowds overflowed from the sidewalks to invade the four-lane highway along which the bus was traveling, slowing its progress towards the royal palace, where King Mohamed VI was waiting to receive those selected and ” celebrate their great historic achievement.”
The Atlas Lions became the first African or Arab team to reach the semifinals of a World Cup. The Moroccan team made history and carried out one of the most inspiring feats during the first World Cup organized by an Arab nation.
Morocco defeated formerly colonial European countries Belgium, Spain and Portugal before losing to France in the semifinals. The unprecedented performance earned the players a hero’s welcome.
“Morocco’s performance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup will go down in the history books as one of the most exciting campaigns since the tournament’s inception.”Reda Ghazi, a 27-year-old, who owns a cafe, told The Associated Press. “The dream of every Moroccan is to win something, especially since Morocco is a country where the passion for football is overwhelming.”.
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Morocco finished fourth in the competition after losing 2-1 to Croatia in the match for third place on Saturday. Even so, the role played exceeded the expectations of most Moroccans.
“What happened in this World Cup still doesn’t fit in my head”, recounted Anour El Berkaoui, a 23-year-old student. “The team has set such a high standard that now we will not be happy with anything other than winning the next Africa Cup of Nations”.
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