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That's The Smile Of Joy And Triumph!

Last updated on: December 07, 2022 09:16 IST
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IMAGE: An ecstatic Morocco fan celebrates a famous victory over Spain. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

Before the World Cup started, no one would have considered Morocco anything more than an underdog.

But on Tuesday night, December 6, 2022, Morocco became the first Arab country to reach the quarter-finals and one of the biggest stories of this World Cup after topping a difficult group, featuring powerhouses Belgium and Croatia.

While the team has garnered notice for their positive play, the fans have made bigger headlines, from the large numbers that have converged at the first World Cup to be hosted by an Arab State, to the fantastic noise and atmosphere they bring to the games.

The last Arab and African side left in the World Cup, Morocco have been willed on by some of the most impassioned fans at the tournament who arrived at the Education City stadium with their ear-splitting volume turned up high even before kickoff.

Such was the presence of the Moroccan supporters that Spain Coach Luis Enrique gave the 'Red Army' at least partial credit for his men misfiring on all three of their penalty shootout attempts after the game finished goalless following extra time.

Morocco fans celebrate after the penalty shootout win

IMAGE: Morocco fans celebrate the penalty shootout win. Photograph: Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Morocco is about 5,000 kilometres from Qatar, and whilst not the closest competing nation, it is far closer than many European, Asian or countries from the Americas, which explains why there is such huge support for the team at the stadiums.

The victory over Spain, which once ruled swathes of Morocco and where many Moroccans now live, may have felt particularly sweet. At its closest point, Morocco is just 14 miles away from Spain.

IMAGE: Achraf Hakimi celebrates scoring Morocco's winning penalty in the shootout against Spain. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images


IMAGE: Moroccan fans can't hide their joy about beating Spain which ruled parts of Morocco. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images


IMAGE: Morocco Head Coach Walid Regragui celebrates with his boys. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images


IMAGE: A jubilant Hakim Ziyech (the awesome midfielder who plays for Chelsea) is held aloft by Zakaria Aboukhlal (the forward who plays for Toulouse). Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images
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