Morocco reaches World Cup semifinals in victory over Portugal
Africa finally has a team in World Cup Semifinals: The Arab world also makes it to the finals. Morocco won the tournament’s most prestigious event in its nearly 100-year history. Cristiano Ronaldo His Portugal team beat him 1-0 Saturday in a shocking result in the first World Cup in the Middle East.
Ronaldo, a tearful Ronaldo, headed straight down the tunnel — perhaps into international retirement — but after the final whistle, Morocco’s team tossed their coach in midair and waved the flag of their country as they embraced their fans.
Yassine Bounou, Morocco goalkeeper, said “Pinch me! I’m dreaming!” “Morocco is prepared to face any challenge in the world. We have changed the mentality for the generations that follow us. They will be able to see that Moroccan players can do miracles.
Youssefen-Nesyri scored in the 42nd minute the winning goal to continue an unlikely run that has elicited a flood of pride in the Arab World and inspired displays of Arab identity by fans from different countries.
Africa is also happy to have a nation reach the level that South American or European teams can only dream of. Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002 and Ghana (2010) all reached quarterfinals, but did not get any further.
Morocco has won the semifinal match against France. England was defeated Saturday, 2-1
Ronaldo, a 37-year-old soccer legend, was unable to start the second game. He was substituted in the 51st minute. He missed his chance to equalize in the final minute.
The five-time World Player of the Year is set to end his career without ever reaching the final or winning the World Cup. After the final whistle, he walked straight off the field, being briefly stopped by two Morocco players who wanted to shake his hand, and a spectator who confronted and tried to comfort him. He was then taken to the locker room, where he began to cry.
Ronaldo will be finished with 118 goals, which is a record for men’s soccer. He’ll also have the European Championship title, but not the biggest prize. In 2006, he only made it to the semifinals of the World Cup.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said that “our players are distressed”. He shrugged off questions about the future of his team and said that he didn’t regret starting Ronaldo. “Cristiano, a great player, came on when we felt it was necessary. But no, no regrets.”
This Morocco team, coached by Walid Regragui (French-born) and featuring 14 players from abroad, has no reason to not win the title. They won a group that also included Croatia, second-ranked Belgium, and Croatia, the semifinalist. They then defeated Spain and Portugal in the quarterfinals.
“What’s important is that we have shown future generations that it is possible to reach the semifinals of the World Cup for an African team.” Or the final, why not? According to Reuters, Regragui said this to reporters.
“I was asked if we could win the World Cup in a press conference three to four matches ago. I replied, “Why not?” We can dream. Why should we not dream? You can’t achieve anything if you don’t dream. It doesn’t have to cost you anything.
Morocco’s defense has not conceded a goal by an opponent player at this year’s World Cup — the one it allowed was an own-goal. It also stifled Portugal, which beat Switzerland 6-1 in 16 to make it among the favorites.
The team relied almost entirely on counterattacks in a game that was played against the backdrop of passionate cheers and whistles from Morocco’s passionate fans. One of those counterattacks resulted in the team scoring.
A cross was made from the left, and En-Nesyri leapt in between Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa (defender Ruben Dias) to head into the empty net.
Ronaldo, who will turn 41 in 2026, was barely able to touch the ball until stoppage, when he got in behind Morocco’s defense of a long ball forward. Bounou saved his low shot.
“I was afraid that he might play,” Regragui stated about Ronaldo, “because he can score from nothing.”
Substitute Walid Cheddira received a red card from Morocco in stoppage time. He was trying to collect a second yellow in the same amount of minutes.
Ronaldo collapsed to his knees in despair after Pepe, Portugal’s center back, veered wide from the six-yard box in the sixth of added time.
Lionel Messi will face Argentina in the semifinals, but the other soccer greats of this generation will not.
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