Morocco: A Cinderella Story

Photo Credit: Martin Meissner, AP

Photo Credit: Martin Meissner, AP

Josh Perez, Cub News Writer

Cinderella stories are revered in sports. Whether it was Saint Peters in the 2022 March Madness tournament or the USA hockey team in the 1980 Olympics, people like an underdog story. The Moroccan National Team has done just that this World Cup as they are the first African team in history to make the semi-finals.

Their journey started in the group stages, where they proved that they were not a team to be overlooked. In their first game, they tied Croatia, who have been very solid, also defying the odds to make the semi-finals. They then comfortably beat Belgium 2-0 in their second game, a team that is in the top 10 of FIFA’s power rankings. This win set the tone for the rest of their tournament as they beat Canada 2-1 in their third game, securing the top spot in their group.

In the Round of 16, Morocco faced a tough opponent in Spain. Spain had done well in their group-stage games and came into this game as a favorite. They dominated the game with 77% possession of the ball and almost 700 more passes than Morocco, but the Moroccan defense held out and the game ended in a 0-0 draw after extra time. The game went to penalties and Morocco’s goalie, Yassine Bounou, proved he’s one of the world’s best with two game-winning saves. 

Morocco faced another challenge in the quarter-finals with Portugal. This Portuguese side is one of the best teams Ronaldo has had with him, and have shown that in this tournament, especially after their 6-1 win over Switzerland in the previous game. Again, Portugal dominated this game with over 70% possession and over 400 more passes. However, Morocco only needed one chance as their striker, Youssef En-Nesyri, was able to head a cross past the Portuguese goalie, securing a 1-0 win.

Morocco faced their toughest challenge in the semi-finals, France. They lost 2-0 despite fighting hard and having many dangerous chances on goal. Although Morocco’s dream run is over, they still made history, becoming the first African team to make the semi-finals and taking out many top opponents along the way, like Belgium, Portugal, and Spain. They will play Croatia this Saturday in the playoffs for third place.