'Morocco on the verge of making history': Fans excited ahead of Portugal quarter-final

Many fans arrive in Doha looking for precious match tickets

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Morocco fans have travelled from across the region and beyond to support their team, in what is proving to be a historic tournament for the Atlas Lions.

Already the first Arab country to reach a World Cup quarter-final, they could go one step further into the last four if they can find a way past an impressive Portugal side who put six past Switzerland in the last round.

Morocco, however, have already knocked out one European giant in Spain and defeated the world number two side Belgium in their group matches.

Fans gathering near Al Thumama Stadium for Saturday's match were excited at the prospect of going further in the competition.

Kenza Boukrim, 25, and her brother Elias flew in from Chicago and travelled from Morocco to the match with their mother.  Ali Al Shouk / The National

Kenza Boukrim, 25, and her brother Elias flew in from Chicago and travelled from Morocco to the match with their mother.

“We watched the previous matches on TV. We used to wake up at 4am in US. We are thrilled to be here and watch it live,” said Ms Boukrim.

“They are doing better and they might be the underdogs [to watch out for] in this tournament.

"They surprised everybody as not a lot of people expected that. They brought the whole Arab world together. It’s such a great experience we are having.”

Abdulsalam bin Abduljalil, 71, has been to all of Morocco's matches since the start of the tournament. Ali Al Shouk / The National

Abdulsalam bin Abduljalil, 71, has been to all of Morocco's matches since the start of the tournament.

“I watched all matches and cheered for them. We will stand with our team until the end. They made us proud,” said Mr Abduljalil who is attending his first World Cup.

“I don’t have a ticket yet for the match against Portugal. I’m ready to pay $1,000 or $1,500 for the ticket.

“We are delighted that Morocco are representing Arab and African countries in the World Cup. We are optimistic about qualifying. It feels different to make such an achievement in the first World Cup in the Middle East.”

Mukhtar Ahmed, 37, travelled from Saudi Arabia to support his team for the Spain match and stayed on for the Portugal game.

“Morocco are on the verge of making history here in Doha. The team has never achieved this in five previous World Cup appearances.

"We like calling ourselves the dark horse of the tournament. We have the best set of players and opportunity in our hands,” he said.

He said the whole nation was behind the team and had faith they could go all the way in this World Cup.

"We will defeat Portugal," Mr Ahmed said.

"I don’t think Ronaldo will start and our coach will know how to deter them.”

Morocco played with passion and determination and had brought smiles to all Arabs, he said.

“Even if we lose, I will still celebrate because they made us proud. We are the only Arab team left and it's thrilling as we saw all the Arab spectators supporting us."

Hassine Mohammed was hoping to secure tickets for the match.  Ali Al Shouk / The National

Hassine Mohammed 49, came from Morocco with his wife.

Having sampled the excitement of the Spain game, he was hoping to secure tickets for the quarter-final.

“The match with Spain was amazing and the atmosphere was phenomenal. We hope to defeat Portugal and go all the way to the final,” Mr Mohammed said.

“I’ve been searching for match tickets since yesterday. The tickets on the black market are expensive and cost up to 3,000 riyals [Dh3,000]. I came with my wife and it will cost me a fortune.”

Updated: December 10, 2022, 2:15 PM