Morocco’s Qatar World Cup heroics the result of years of effort — on and off the pitch

The year 2022 has been a splendid one for Moroccan football. The country’s Qatar World Cup exploits are just the cherry on top.
Morocco’s run to unchartered territory in the Fifa World Cup may appear to be just another fairytale sports run. Think Greece winning the 2004 European Championships, or 17-year-old Boris Becker’s Wimbledon win in 1985.
Of course, who can forget English club Leicester City’s 2016 Premier League success.
There was also that memorable and equally surprising win for Denmark at Euro 1992 — thrown into the fray at the eleventh hour, following the disqualification of Yugoslavia due to the civil war that was gripping the then country at the time.
However, the first African country to finally reach the World Cup semifinals in the history of the 92-year-old global football extravaganza is not here by chance.
We want it all!
They have made history equally owing to the concerted and concentrated effort by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (RMFF), as they have for the valiant fighting spirit that the players — led by head coach Walid Regragui — have shown at the World Cup.
However, the Moroccan men’s national team’s success in 2022 is not unique to them.
The women’s senior side reached the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) final, on home soil, where they lost to an experienced and hungry South African side that had failed to lift the crown after reaching the final five previous times.
Despite having to settle for silver in their maiden final appearance in the continental competition, they managed to qualify for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup — the first time they have achieved this.
At club level, Wydad Casablanca are the reigning men’s Caf Champions League champions, while in the women’s equivalent, the North African nation’s Asfar recently dethroned Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies of South Africa to become the queens of African club football.
To cap it off, men’s side RS Berkane are also the current defending champions in the Caf Confederations Cup after clinching that title in May 2022.
Morocco are also the holders of the African Nations Championship (Chan) — which is not to be confused with the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon). The former is reserved only for players based on the continent. The Atlas Lions won it in 2020, after also having triumphed two years prior in the biennial competition.
Africa has long lagged behind Europe in terms of infrastructure. However, Morocco has attempted to change that fact one ...
14 Dec 2022 6AM English South Africa News · Sports

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