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Morocco Makes History as First African Country to Reach World Cup Semifinals

Morocco will be advancing to the semifinals after a historic victory over Portugal at the 2022 World Cup on Saturday. Morocco won the match, 1-0, and is the first African country to make it this far in the World Cup. At the semifinals, Morocco will face off against either England or France.

Portugal was favored to win the match with star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, but the team didn’t score any points. Youssef En-Nesyri scored the match’s only goal at the 42nd minute just before halftime, assisted by Yahya Attiat-Allah. The team’s impressive winning streak has now spanned five matches and is credited to its strong defense, including goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou. So far none of the team’s opponents—Croatia, Belgium, Canada, Spain or Portugal—have scored goals.

“It is an unbelievable feeling. No one thought we could do it. I said last week that we wanted to end the curse,” Moroccan soccer player Abdelhamid Sabiri told German news channel ZDF, according to Al Jazeera. “We are taking it one match at a time. We want to win every game.”

Morocco’s win has fostered enthusiasm across the Arab world and its diaspora, already a momentous year with Qatar as the first Arab country to host a World Cup. Saturday’s match coupled with Morocco’s last victory over Spain on December 6 erupted in celebrations on the streets of Rabat, in France—home to a substantial Moroccan community—and at the World Cup itself in Doha.

The other teams that have been confirmed to play in the semifinals are Argentina and Croatia. The semifinals will feature two matches of two teams each and take place next week on December 13 and 14. The winners will compete at the finals on December 18.