History was made on Saturday, December 10, as Morocco was the first African and Arab team to reach the semifinals in the World Cup’s 92-year history. Defeating Portugal 1-0 was Youssef En-Nesyri, who scored the game’s only goal minutes before half-time. Al Thumama Stadium buzzed with cheers and whistles as though the whole continent and region were to watch their team make history.
Cristiano Ronaldo's final World Cup presumably came to an end with Portugal's defeat. As he was overcome with emotion in tears, walking down the tunnel following the final whistle since even he was unable to make a dent in the Moroccan defense.
Ronaldo responded to this defeat, “To win a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career. Fortunately, I won many titles in the international dimension, including Portugal, but to put the name of our country at the highest level in the world was my biggest dream. I fought for it. I fought a lot for that dream. In the five times I was present in World Cups throughout 16 years, always next to great players and supported by millions of Portuguese; I gave it my all. I left everything on the field. I never faced away from the fight, and I never gave up on that dream.”
The 2018 World Cup was the last time these two teams met. However, the roles were reversed, with Ronaldo scoring the game’s only goal.
With this victory, an Arab nation will have accomplished a first in an Arab World Cup held on Arab soil. This will also permanently alter Moroccans' and other Africans' perceptions of what it means to succeed and win.
Supporters worldwide cheered for Morocco’s win regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s match. This win was a massive success for the Arab and Muslim nations. Support for Palestine was shared around the world as fans displayed the country’s flag proudly. Not only fans but Morocco’s players also held the Palestinian flag while celebrating their victory over Spain in their team photo.
This World Cup has brought a reality: Many Muslims and Arabs care profoundly about Palestine and Palestinians and will continue to do so. They traveled to Doha to savor the first World Cup and spread the word about this. The Palestinian flag has been carried through the streets and into stadiums, as well as worn on t-shirts, armbands, and the traditional headgear known as a keffiyeh. They have expressed their ideas as plainly as possible when they have come across Israeli journalists, mainly live broadcasting.
“The presence of Palestine was strongly felt in every stadium, the flag of Palestine was waved everywhere,” Ahmad Tibi, an Arab-Israeli member of the Knesset and avid football fan, told magazine. “After years in which the feeling that the Palestinian issue was less of an issue among the Arabs, the [Arab] people made clear that this issue is the central one for the entire Arab nation.”
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