Doha, Qatar – There’s just one present at Al Thumama stadium – it’s the Lions de l’Atlas (Atlas Lions).
After what can solely be described as a extremely spirited competitors with loads of fouls, Sara Sulaiman from Morocco says she is “euphoric” as Morocco progressed to the spherical of 16, beating Canada 2-1, with objectives from Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri proving to be sufficient for qualification.
That is the primary time since 1986 that the North African nation has made it by to the knockout stage of the match. It’s additionally the one Arab nation out of 4 to take action in 2022.
“I’m not simply over the moon, I’m means over it. It’s an unimaginable achievement for our small nation,” Sulaiman tells Al Jazeera.
The 28-year-old Moroccan from Fez says she thinks the Atlas Lions “positively” have an opportunity to make it additional within the match.
“I believe we will win extra – possibly even the match,” she says, laughing loudly, after which provides that it doesn’t matter what occurs now, she is “very proud” of the crew.
“They’ve already made us so completely satisfied. I don’t need to put extra stress,” she says.
Malek Alami, a Moroccan from Marrakesh, says at this time’s win was the “happiest second in his life”.
“I’ve no phrases, simply so many emotions – all completely satisfied ones. That is an unimaginable achievement for us,” Alami says, and provides that the qualification will “unite our nation”.
The 37-year-old tourism coordinator says there can be nonstop celebrations again dwelling.
“The get together will proceed till Fajr [the dawn prayer for Muslims], at this time,” Alami says.
Many supporters stayed on after the sport and continued their celebrations outdoors the gates of the stadium.
“All the time Morocco,” they cheered as they laughed with family and friends, and naturally, took selfies to mark the historic event.
Lots of of revellers gathered close to the FIFA music stage, many carrying their youngsters on their shoulders, shouting out “Viva la Maghreb”, or “Lengthy Stay Morocco”.
On the pitch, the Moroccan gamers held up the Palestinian flag in solidarity with the occupied nation, one thing that followers have additionally completed all through the match.
In the meantime, followers of the Nice White North had been much less buoyant as they resigned themselves to their crew’s exit from the match after dropping each of their earlier video games.
“I believe it was a superb recreation. It’s not enjoyable to lose,” Kelly White, 44, tells Al Jazeera.
“However this match for us was to point out the world we’re [a football] nation. We will compete on the highest stage,” she provides. “Hopefully we can be higher in 2026 when Canada will be the host. I can’t wait!”
Even earlier than kickoff, the environment on the practically 45,000-capacity venue was electrifying.
Moroccan followers, who’ve been exuberant of their help for his or her nationwide crew all through the match, slowly made their means into the venue in a number of massive teams, singing and dancing to Arab and French songs, together with Algerian singer Khaled’s C’est la vie, to uplift the temper.
As soon as the sport began, each transfer ahead by the Atlas Lions was cheered with thunderous roars. The North African supporters jeered and booed loudly every time their crew was fouled.
“It is a big win, not only for Morocco but all Arabs,” Mohammed Hisham from Marrakesh tells Al Jazeera.
“All my mates from Tunisia or Lebanon or Qatar are behind us,” the 36-year-old, who lives in Doha, provides.
“The World Cup being within the Center East is already a significant achievement – now this qualification, it’s exceptional.”