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Morocco in celebration of a historic classification


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“Historic”. “We’ve waited 36 years!” Joy swept over Morocco, who reached the World Cup Round of 16 undefeated for the first time since 1986 after beating Canada 2-1.

Celebration scenes erupted everywhere across a football-loving country, from Casablanca to Rabat, from Marrakech to Salé, from wealthy to working-class neighborhoods.

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On Avenida Mohammed 5, the main thoroughfare of the capital, fans dressed in red, wrapped in the national flag with the green star, lit smoke flares amid a deafening noise of horns.

The rain, which had been the protagonist since the morning, was kind enough to stop just before the final whistle.

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Men, women and children crowded the cafes, the precious chairs already occupied hours before. Some banks even closed earlier than usual.

“I was worried but they surprised us! I’m starting to dream about the cup,” said Houda, 34, after watching the game at a downtown cafe with his granddaughter.

“My joy is boundless today. It’s a historic moment to see the Moroccan flag soaring high. You’ll see our players giving everything for their country,” said Mehdi Dida, 36, a maths teacher from Casablanca.

“It’s fantastic to see a Moroccan team led by a Moroccan coach qualify for the round of 16. It’s very strong,” said Paulin Amato, a 29-year-old Frenchman who lives in Morocco.

“It shows that football, generally dominated by Europeans, is changing. It’s changing the scales and shuffling the football cards. It’s a good thing,” he said.

Since the goalless draw with Croatia, and then the spectacular victory on Sunday (27) over Belgium by 2-0, the madness of the “Lions of the Atlas” and their coach, Walid Regragui, in charge for just three months, it is getting bigger.

“World Cup 2022: Morocco is on the side of the greats”, headlines the newspaper L’Economiste.

And social networks are moved every day by the World Cup, making people forget the dire economic situation. According to a survey, 20% of Moroccans are confident of reaching the semi-final and only a slightly smaller percentage of reaching the final.

Royal Air Maroc, the national airline, has scheduled an “air bridge” with Qatar, adding additional flights before and after each match for the remainder of the tournament.

Many Moroccan fans had a dream: to face Germany on Tuesday (6) in the next round and avenge the cruel defeat by 1-0 to the German selection, finalist, in 1986, in Mexico.

But, finally, the resolution of Group E left Germany eliminated and determined that Morocco’s opponents in the round of 16 will be neighbors Spain.

Morocco then became the first African and Arab team to reach the Round of 16. A memory that is still very much alive and that could find relief in this generation of 2022.

“My father and people from his generation have always talked about the 1986 generation. Now, 20 years from now, I will be able to talk to my children from the 2022 generation. It’s historic,” said a Moroccan fan.

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