Thousands of Moroccans coming from across the country and from abroad have lined up all along the itinerary taken by the open bus driving the Atlas Lions from the Rabat-Salé airport to the Royal Palace.
The players boarded an open-roof bus from the airport, going on a tour of the streets of Rabat, before heading to the Rabat Royal Palace, where King Mohammed VI is set to receive head coach Walid Regragui and his players for a function.
They all flocked to Rabat this Tuesday to welcome the Atlas Lions upon their return home after their historic participation in the Qatar 2022 World cup. The fans started gathering along the itinerary hours before the team’s plane landed at the airport. They all came to express to their heroes their enthusiasm, happiness and pride at their historic and unprecedented journey at the World Cup, held for the first time in an Arab and Islamic country.
Young and old, women and men, children and even babies in their mothers’ lap, thousands lined up all along the itinerary, to welcome the Atlas Lions, or rather the national heroes who wrote a new page in the football history of Morocco, Africa, and the Arab World in Qatar, where they succeeded, for the first time in the history of Morocco, Africa and the Arab world, to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup.
The Atlas Lions’ feat sparked a wave of sympathy across the world, breaking geographical or ethnic boundaries, with scenes of popular support after every game, hailing the players, donning their jersey and waving the Moroccan flags in Cairo and Abu Dhabi, in Tel Aviv and Gaza, in Paris, Brussels, Berlin or London, in Dakar, Niamey, Libreville or Bamako, in New York, Washington, or Montreal.
No one will dispute that the national team achieved an exceptional feat at the Qatar 2022 World Cup to the point that the whole world seemed under the spell of a phenomenon called “Morocco”. They imposed themselves on the most prestigious TV stations and made the headlines of newspapers across the world. In the process, Morocco mirrored the image of a country with an exceptional prestige, drawing its attractiveness and strength from its leadership, embodied in King Mohammed VI, people and multi-faceted civilization.
Morocco, the first African, Arab and Muslim country to reach a World Cup semi-final, now proudly carries the hopes of the Maghreb, Africa and the Arab-Muslim world. By breaking a psychological threshold in Qatar World Cup, the Atlas Lions allow these countries to dream of being part of the world great football nations in the future.
This great popular celebration and majestic welcome reserved to the Moroccan, North African, African and Arab champions will highlight by a function at the Royal palace, where king Mohammed VI will receive the players, their mothers, and the technical and medical staff that all endeavored to offer Morocco joy and make it proud of its sons.
The team managed a goalless draw against 2018 runners-up Croatia in their opening game, before defeating favorites Belgium 2-0 and Canada 2-1 to secure a spot in the knockout rounds for the first time since 1986.
The Atlas Lions then managed to defeat another European powerhouse, Spain, in a 3-0 penalty shootout. They also beat Portugal 1-0 to reach the semi-finals.
While Morocco’s run was cut short with a 2-0 defeat by France, followed by a 2-1 defeat against Croatia to deny them third place, the team’s performance is still the best of any African or Arab country in the tournament’s history.