Underdog teams have defeated championship contender groups in the opening rounds of this World Cup, making it nothing but an emotional rollercoaster. But that’s what makes football so wonderful—it never ceases to surprise. Since the World Cup is being held in Qatar, Arab supporters have come together to support teams from the region, and let’s face it, we were all ecstatic when Saudi Arabia overcame Argentina in a dramatic match that finished 2-1 for the Kingdom. Since Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have been eliminated from this competition, Morocco is the only remaining nation making the entire Arab world cheer for its attempt to make history as they compete against Spain on Tuesday, Dec.6 at 5 PM.
In their last match, Morocco was able to beat Canada 2-1 to finish top of their group in a stadium packed with their supporters. In their earlier matches, they had tied with Croatia and scored a surprise win over Belgium, the second-ranked team in the world. Some supporters even believe that they can go all the way into the final rounds of the World Cup. Knocking out the Spanish team will not be an easy task, but something that the Atlas Lions can do with talents like Hakim Ziyech who plays as an attacking midfielder for Premier League club Chelsea, and Achraf Hakimi who plays for French Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
Morocco now carries the mantle for an Arab world that has cheered victories by Arab teams against some of the tournament favorites. “We hope to fly the flag of African football high,” said Morocco coach Walid Regragui to Arab News. This is the first time that Morocco has qualified for the knockouts since the 1986 World Cup, where it lost to West Germany in the round of 16. In order to demonstrate to the world what football means to the region, they have performed admirably up to this point, winning the love and support of neighboring Arab nations. It is true that football has the capacity to bring people together by bridging political divides and fostering an atmosphere in which we can support one another as Arabs on the field.