FIFA World Cups
have traditionally been the monopoly of European and South American sides. The
domination has been such that only one team (South Korea) outside Europe and Americas has entered the
semi-finals in 21 editions of the event so far. However, North American side
Morocco has a chance to re-write history by becoming the first country from Africa to
enter the World Cup semi-finals when it takes on Portugal in the quarter-finals
of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday.
African teams in the World Cup:
side was the first from Africa to play a World Cup in 1936. Other Africa teams
soon followed suit but it was a single African team in a cup till 1982 when the number was doubled. Later, Africa’s numbers became three and eventually five as it
sides including Morocco this year have made it to the last eight of the FIFA
World Cup. The pioneers in that respect were Cameroon, when they entered the
quarter-final in 1990 and valiantly fought before losing 2-3 to England. The
next African team to enter the quarters was Senegal in 2002 but they lost the
match 0-1 to Turkey.
greatest chance in the quarter-finals came in 2010 on home soil when Luis
Suarez’s hand stood between African dreams and a goal as the hand ball by
Suarez prevented a goal and Ghana later lost the match in penalties to Uruguay.
Morocco has an opportunity to write history on Saturday by becoming the first
side to enter the semi-finals from the continent.
chances against Portugal:
Morocco is one
of the only four unbeaten sides in the World Cup, with the other three being
England, Croatia and Netherlands. That alone is a testimony to Morocco’s
solidity. The only goal Morocco has conceded in the event was an own goal by Nayef
Aguerd in the final group encounter against Canada.
has been extraordinary at the goal and was pivotal in the side’s victory over
Spain in the round of 16 as Spain went goalless both in the regular match as
well as in the penalty shoot-out. Morocco will need more of that resilience
from the goalie and from other defenders as they take on in Portugal an attacking
side that has been on its rampaging best in the World Cup.
The fight will be mouth-watering
with the Portuguese attack taking on the Moroccan defense. While only the
Mediterranean Sea separates the two countries geographically, better skills and
nerves could divide the two on the football field on Saturday.