Sea of red: Morocco fans make Qatar's Al Bayt Stadium feel like home

Despite 0-0 scoreline, for some Morocco fans it felt like victory against 2018 runners-up Croatia

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Thousands of Morocco flags turned the Al Bayt Stadium red on Wednesday, making many of their fans feel right at home.

The ground was jumping as Morocco drew 0-0 against the 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia, and for some it was a good result.

”It was like being at home inside the stadium, with so many of our flags and fans inside," said Yassine Bihi, a Moroccan fan who lives in Doha and went to the game with his wife and two boys Adam and Jad.

"I think a draw is a good result, Croatia are a good side. It was only the first game for us, hopefully this point will help get us out of the group.”

The atmosphere was electric from the start, with the underdogs impressing with their energy on the pitch despite not being able to create many clear-cut opportunities.

Drago Majher, 60, and his son, Josip, 36, were at the game. Andrew Scott / The National

"It was more fun inside the stadium today, there was lots of noise from the Moroccan fans and I think we were unlucky not to win," said Hyat Makoudi, who lives in France and attended the game with seven family members.

Croatia fan Drago Majher thought the teams were evenly matched on the day.

“Morocco were very fast and very strong, I think they surprised us," he said. "It was hot, yes, but there was no excuse. It was actually cooler inside the stadium. I think it was just two tough teams who didn’t want to lose.”

His son, Josep, an entrepreneur who lives in Croatian capital Zagreb, was more disappointed than his father and said after Argentina's shock defeat against Saudi Arabia, both teams were overcautious.

"Neither side wanted to take any risk, it is still very early on in the tournament," he said.

"Croatia did not want to lose like Argentina. We are not happy with a draw but we live to fight another day. There is still a long way to go.”

Despite the goalless draw, many Moroccan fans felt happy coming out of the stadium.

Driss Belkhiti, 27, is a consultant from Casablanca but now lives in Dubai, from where he takes a shuttle flight to catch some World Cup games.

"It was a pretty good game from Morocco, bearing in mind Croatia were the finalists last time," he said.

"It’s a little disappointing there were no goals but it is still a good score for us. It gives us hope to get through the group stage.

"I’ve been taking the shuttles [flights] from Dubai and it has been a great experience so far. We are always one of the best represented teams at a World Cup and it is the same in Qatar.”

Updated: November 23, 2022, 5:19 PM
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