MOROCCO MADE HISTORY AS THE FIRST AFRICAN TEAM TO ADVANCE TO THE SEMIFINALS OF THE WORLD CUP 2022
Morocco won a dramatic victory against Portugal in a quarterfinal match, at the Al Thumama stadium, on Saturday, December 10, 2022.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has proven that nothing is impossible in football, where even underdogs like Morocco can win against juggernauts like Portugal and become the first African team to move forward to the semifinals.
Morocco won a dramatic victory against Portugal in a quarterfinal match, at the Al Thumama stadium, on Saturday, December 10, 2022. Walid Regragui, the Moroccan team’s manager, made Cristiano Ronaldo taste a bitter 0-1 defeat.
In the first half, coach Fernando Santos put Goncalo Ramos, Joao Felix, and Bruno Fernandes in the front row. But the Moroccan defensive discipline, built up by Achraf Hakimi and friends, was difficult for the Portuguese players to penetrate. Ramos was not given the opportunity to touch the ball.
The Moroccan team utilized a strategy of unbreakable defense paired with swift counterattacks to suppress and ultimately surpass the Portugal team. As if to reward the team’s patience, in the 42nd minute, Azzedine Ounahi's counterattack was sent to Yahia Attiyat Allah. Youssef En-Nesyri advanced to head the ball. Seeing the Moroccan players advancing, the Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Costa came out trying to block it. En-Nesyri's header went into the net, scoring a point for Morocco.
During the second half, Fernando Santos sent the legendary striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Leao to score goals. But again, the solid and disciplined Moroccan defense played extraordinarily in marking zones. Their discipline and hard work made it difficult for the Portuguese players to enter the penalty box. Meanwhile, Portugal's sporadic attacks rarely hit the goal.
During the eight minutes of extra time, Portugal continued to press. Coach Walid Reragui attracted forward players by including defenders to secure a 1-0 advantage. Even Walid Cheddira had to tackle Joao Felix in the 93rd minute to prevent Portugal from building an attack.
Referee Facundo Tello from Argentina gave Cheddira a red card. With Cheddira out, Morocco continued to close their area in the midfield, preventing Portugal from penetrating the heart of the defense. The referee finally blew the final whistle.
Morocco almost stunned the crowd with a dramatic 1-0 victory. After the match, Cristiano Ronaldo exited the field and looked seriously dejected in the locker rooms. This may be Ronaldo’s last world cup, as the player is currently 37 years old, and closing in on retirement.
Thanks to this 1-0 victory, Morocco made history by becoming the first team from Africa to qualify for the semifinals of the World Cup. Morocco surpassed Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup, Senegal in 2002, and Ghana in the 2010 World Cup.
Morocco (4-3-3): Yassine Bounou; Achraf Hakimi, Jawad El Yamiq, Romain Saiss (Achraf Dari 57'), Yahia Attiyat Allah; Azzedine Ounahi, Sofyan Amrabat, Selim Amallah (Walid Cheddira 65'); Hakim Ziyech (Zakaria Aboukhlal 82'), Youssef En-Nesyri (Badr Benoun 65'), Sofiane Boufal (Yahya Jabrane 82'). Trainer: Walid Reragui.
Portugal (4-3-3): Diogo Costa; Raphael Guerreiro (Joao Cancelo 51'), Ruben Dias, Pepe, Diogo Dalot (Ricardo Horta 79'); Otavio (Vitinha 69'), Ruben Neves (Cristiano Ronaldo 51'), Bernardo Silva; Joao Felix, Goncalo Ramos (Rafael Leao 69'), Bruno Fernandes. Coach: Fernando Santos.#THE S MEDIA #Media Milenial #2022 World Cup #Qatar #Morocco #Portugal #Cristiano Ronaldo