Footy Times

An Ode To The Moroccan Reds

The fairytale run of Atlas Lions in Qatar World Cup

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Morocco – The Northernmost Muslim populated African nation, known for its famous townships or rather called ‘Medinas’ where traditional handicrafts, like jewellery, rugs, leather items, and teapots can be found, is coming to international attention again through their historic entrance to the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.

The battle between Morocco and Spain has much more to say from the niche of history. It was in 711 AD, the army general Thariq Ibn Ziyad of the Moroccan conqueror Musa Ibn Nusayr crossed the Gibraltar sea along with an army of only six thousand to Spain for the battle against King Roderic with over one lakh soldiers. The King came with excessive confidence believing the numbers of his great army and he even bought donkeys for dragging the Moroccan soldiers.

Thariq witnessed nervousness in the eyes of his army, he ordered them to burn off their ships and delivered an excellent speech encouraging them with the notion of belief.

The two armies met at the battlefield of Guadalete where King Roderic was defeated and killed on Ramadan 28.
Gibraltar received its name after the endeavor of Thariq Ibn Ziyad as he landed over the hill close to the sea.

Tariq’s expedition into Spain holds a unique place in the medieval military annals of the world, both on land and sea.
Spain remained under Muslim rule for more than 750 years, from 711 to 1492.

As a result of Muslim rule, Spain became a beacon of art, science, and, culture for Europe. Mosques, palaces, gardens, hospitals, and libraries were built. Canals were repaired and new ones were dug. New crops were introduced from other parts of the Muslim empire and agricultural production increased. Andalus, as Spain was called by Muslims, became the granary of the West.

Manufacturing was encouraged and the silk and brocade work of the peninsula became well-known trading centres of the world. Cities increased in size and prospered.

Anyway, history has played its part, and modern Morocco with their football team known as ‘Atlas Lions’ has imitated a piece of exact inspiration from the past.

Morocco is now the fourth African nation to reach the World Cup quarter-finals after Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002), and Ghana (2010). And they’re the first African nation to win a penalty shoot-out at the World Cup, with this just the second one contested by an African side (previously Ghana 2-4 against Uruguay in 2010).

Subtlety, perseverance, and beauty, it’s all about Morocco, and their wonderful journey to the quarter-finals of the Qatar World Cup sending the 2010 champions back home. Deemed to be the mighty black horses of this 22nd edition, they produced a high-voltage of performance throughout the group stage tied to a goalless draw with Croatia, beating the 2nd rank Belgium and Canada 2-1.

The final pre-quarter match day held at Educational City Stadium evoked the full pressure of a neighbourhood clash. The tiki-taka Spain controlled the game with their so-called possession game completing 800 passes in regular time but can’t get through. On the other side, Morocco focused on frequent counter-attacks. But neither of the teams can’t take up the chances in the extra time as the game was on for more than two hours. The tiredness made the game slow down and the match required a result through the shootout.

But the experienced Spanish penalty specialists displayed disappointing shots where the Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou rose to the occasion and exhibited a heroic performance on this glorious night.
He blocked two shots including Busquets and Pablo Sarabia hit the post where they failed to register a single goal in penalties. Achraf Hakimi finishes off with style gifting the team a 3-0 victory.

As the result stated in favour of Morocco, they will face Portugal in the Quarter-finals on coming Saturday.

“We fought and made the Moroccan people happy, we made history, and Morocco deserves it, Moroccan people made us united on the pitch,” coach Walid Regragui told Bein Sports. 

“We honoured the Arab and African football, coach Regragui gave us the confidence that we needed in this game, a big boost in morale. We knew that Spain depend on their ball possession and we played with that in mind. They didn’t impose any danger.” -Morocco defender Jawad El Yamiq said out of his rejoicing.

Let’s lean back and wait for the Moroccan revolution as history speaks of high esteem. It would create another history as they advance through the quarter to the semi-final and then to the finals.


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