Moroccan fans determined to be part of history for World Cup clash with Portugal

Passionate supporters pledge to pull out all the stops to secure tickets for historic match on Saturday

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Proud Morocco fans have vowed to do "whatever it takes" to make it to Qatar for their national side's historic World Cup clash against Portugal on Saturday.

The Atlas Lions became the first Arab side to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Spain on Tuesday, sparking euphoric scenes from Doha to Rabat and across the region.

Moroccans based in the Emirates are desperate to will their team on to another remarkable victory from the stands in Doha.

Ahmed Elmalouli, 40, head of the Moroccan supporters' club in the UAE, said he and many other compatriots are prepared to pull out all the stops to attend the match.

“My friends and I are heading to Qatar by car for Saturday’s game,” he said.

“I got the Hayya card to go to watch our previous matches, but a family emergency prevented me.”

He said the shock win over Spain brought joy to the hearts of millions of Moroccans and fellow Arabs.

Mr Ahmed watched the match with hundreds of others at Al Boughaz Al Maghribi restaurant in Dubai’s Deira district.

He said they were joined by ecstatic supporters from the UAE, Egypt, Palestine and Yemen after Achraf Hakimi's deft penalty sealed their place in the last eight.

“They were cheering and joining in the celebration after the glorious win,” he said.

'It's our duty' to cheer on team

Yassine Sibari , 45, managing director of Ralph Lauren Co Middle East, watched all Morocco’s matches live along with his teenage son, but missed Tuesday’s game.

“I watched it at the Sports City fan zone in Dubai along with over 1,000 people, some of who didn’t even find chairs,” he said.

“Its a national duty to be there for our team.”

He has booked a plane ticket for Doha and the search for a match ticket is well under way.

“I will get one and will be there at any price and no matter what it takes,” he said.

He has already sampled the carnival atmosphere of the World Cup in Qatar and was delighted to see Arabs of all nationalities unite behind Morocco.

He believes history will repeat itself with Morocco overcoming Portugal to earn a semi-final spot.

“It wouldn’t be the first one, the former team of the Atlas Lions defeated Portugal 3-1 back in the 1986 World Cup,” he said.

Zakariae Belafquih, 40, a sound engineer in Dubai, is determined to be part of a packed crowd at Al Thumama Stadium this weekend.

“Many of the players in the team are my friends and I will seek their help and help of other friends in Qatar to secure a ticket,” he said.

“I will do the impossible to get me a ticket.”

He drove with two of his friends to Qatar to see the team's last-16 success.

“An eight-hour drive was the smoothest and everyone on UAE and KSA’s borders were very co-operative and supportive."

While Morocco got the better of Portugal 36 years ago, Mr Belafquih believes there is a score to settle from the 2018 World Cup, when Portugal won 1-0.

Dubai resident Hicham Hansali, 48, flew to Qatar for the World Cup's opening stages and decided to stay there after Morocco’s first win.

“Their astonishing performance and wins compelled that I stay and support them,” he said.

Mr Hansali said he had been inundated with calls from fellow Moroccans eager for a ticket.

“So many are calling and want to come watch the next game here live. Today alone I received 10 calls so far about this.”

Updated: December 09, 2022, 6:04 AM