Morocco’s incredible run in the Qatar World Cup has been the tournament’s story, despite losing a hotly contested semi-final to France. Few expected the Atlas Lions to make it past the group stage, let alone the final four. The North Africans, on the other hand, proved to be giant killers, defeating far more fancied teams such as Belgium, Spain, and Portugal.
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Morocco Won the Everyone’s hearts in FIFA
It not only became the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals, but it also brought joy to fans across Africa and the Arab world. Moroccan players like Sofiane Boufal and Achraf Hakimi celebrated their victories with their mothers, sparking new hopes and dreams in Morocco and the Maghreb. And therein lies the World Cup’s allure. Throughout the tournament’s illustrious history, there have been underrated teams and players who did not win the coveted trophy but won the hearts of football fans all over the world.
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Who can forget Roger Milla’s corner flag dance after scoring to send Cameroon to the quarter-finals in Italy in 1990, a first for an African team? Or how about debutant Croatia’s incredible run to third place in France in 1998? South Korea’s incredible run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2002 became part of Korean folklore. Along the way, a sensational Senegal caused the tournament’s biggest upset by defeating defending champions France and progressing to the quarter-finals.
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In Qatar, one of the biggest upsets of the tournament was Saudi Arabia defeating powerhouse Argentina in the group stage. As a result, while France versus Argentina will be a blockbuster finale this Sunday, the tournament owes just as much to the teams who kept things interesting, provided cliffhangers and surprises, and made us all fall in love with the beautiful game all over again.
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