Morocco’s Atlas Lions have qualified for the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time in their sporting history. Beyond the sporting side of this feat, which we owe to Walid Regragui and his marvellous team, this victory reinforces the “soft power” of Morocco, a country which is positioning itself already as a continental and global leader.
After the final whistle of the referee, several heads of state congratulated, during telephone calls, King Mohammed VI, for the Moroccan team’s historic qualification.
King Mohammed VI thus received telephone calls from the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, from the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, from the Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al -Thani, King Abdallah II of Jordan, the President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, and the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Ben Zayed Al Nahyane.
The calling Heads of State expressed their warm congratulations to King Mohammed VI following this historic achievement which made Morocco the first African and Arab country to reach the semi-finals of a football World Cup.
“We are here, in Qatar, to write history,” Walid Regragui, coach of the Moroccan national team, has said repeatedly after every win of the Atlas Lions, who are now called the Arab Lions and the African lions after their historic victory, being the only Arab and African team to ever reach the semi-finals of a World Cup tournament.
And this is true. On Qatari soil, the Atlas Lions were content, during their first appearance, with a goalless draw against Croatia, yet vice-world champions, before winning two duels in the group stage, respectively against Belgium (2-0) and Canada (2-1) and this Saturday, a great win over Portugal, which entered the tournament as one of the favorites.
A performance never achieved before… and “Mazal Mazal” (more to come, more to come), as the Atlas Lions’ supporters sing in unison during and after each match.