The lions from the atlas mountains of Morocco has surprised the entire footballing planet and taught everyone some soccer lessons with their impressive display at the on going FIFA world cup in Qatar.
Few weeks ago none would have given Morocco a chance to reach the senior men’s world cup semi finals but the 1976 African champions has done just that in grand style thus becoming not just the first African nation to achieve this also the first from the Arab world.
In what is now referred to as the “Moroccan marvel” or the “Morocco magic” others call it the “Morocco midas touch” as the tricky lions from Morocco’s Himalaya highlands have defiled all odds, weathering all storms to get to this level of the senior men’s world cup.
The Maghreb nation became the first African side to have cross the group stage of the senior world cup in 1986. Back then, under the tutelage of Brazilian coach, Jose Farias, they had drawn goalless with England and Poland before beating this same Portugal 3:1 in the group phase only to lose to Germany 1:0 through a dying minute Lothar Matheus’ free-kick goal in the round of 16.
That team had Mohammed Timuomi, Aziz Boudabela, goalkeeper and skipper Badou El Zaki, Merry Krimou, Mustapha El Biyaz, Abdulrazak Khiari among others in their ranks. The current squad also, though not as talented as the Mexico 86′ side notwithstanding have gone two steps ahead by reaching the last four.
With the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi, Sofiane Boufal, Sofyn Amrabat, Youssef En-Nesyri, goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, Walid Chedira and skipper Roman Saiss in this present team, the lions have roared louder than they have ever done. It all started with a goalless draw against Croatia and then a twin win of 2:0 and 2:1 against Belgium and Canada respectively in the first round, then they pipped highly rated former world champions, Spain 3:0 on penalties in the last 16 before the 1:0 defeat of 2016 Europeans champions, Portugal in the quarter finals.
Valery Neplonachi was the one who guarded Cameroon’s lions indomitable to a quarter final finish in Italia 90′ while Bruno “Abdulkareem” Metsu tinkered Senegal’s Teranga lions to the final 8 in Korea/Japan 2002 and off course Radamel Dujkovic took Ghana black stars to the same level in South Africa 2010, however, the aforementioned coaches are Europeans from Russia, France and Serbia.
Interestingly however, the current Moroccan coach, Walid Regragui is an indigenous Moroccan, the immediate past Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco’s CAF champions league winning coach has proven that Africa has tacticians that can rub shoulders with the world’s best if properly motivated.
With Morocco’s feat in Qatar so far, the benefit includes, getting a large largesse from FIFA”S windfall, exposing their league and local players to a global audience, increasing the marketability of their players and attracting more interest and respect for African football. So can the back-to-back winners of the championship of the CAF champions league men and women’s winners plus the CAF confederation cup kings shoot two steps further by winning football’s grandest prize, the FIFA world cup and become Africa’s first world champions ?
Already they are the continent’s best in the copa mundial and have 180 minutes or thereabout between them and glory, first they must dethrone current champions, France. The Arabia knights surely have the magic and midas touch to do so, it can turn to gold. can’t it?
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