Morocco fans flock to Doha in hope of lifting World Cup trophy

Supporters from across the world flying to Qatar to watch Wednesday's semi-final against France

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Doha is expecting a surge of Moroccan fans as their football team has made history by reaching the semi-finals of the Fifa World Cup, the first time the feat has been achieved by an African nation.

As Atlas Lions gear up to take France on Wednesday, more Moroccans and fans from the Arab world are heading to Qatar to watch what they hope will be the match of their lifetime.

At least 15 extra flights between Morocco and Qatar have been scheduled to cater for demand in the coming days.

Saeed Sajid, 54, from Morocco, has come all the way from London to Doha to support his national team.

Quote
My only wish was to have an honourable performance in the tournament but now our eyes are on the title
Mahfoudh Al Mufaelhy from Rabat

He told The National that many of his countrymen would be landing in Doha in the run-up to the big match.

“I came on the first day of the tournament and attended all the matches in which Morocco played," he said.

"I had faith in the players and the coach that they could do something in the World Cup. Many did not pay attention to them but we are in the semi-finals now.

“We will have more fans coming from everywhere to support the lions. Our dreams are growing every minute.

“We celebrated when we qualified in the group stage but this time we will celebrate to the end."

Elias Boukrim and his sister flew from Chicago to Morocco, picked up their mother, and then travelled to Doha to witness the 1-0 victory against Portugal on Saturday.

He said he was waking up about 4am in the US to watch his national team playing in the group stage.

Saeed Sajid, 54, from Morocco, has come all the way from London to Doha to support his national team. Photo: Ali Al Shouk / The National

“As they qualified, I wanted to be in the middle of the action,” Mr Boukrim said. "They are doing better [even though] they might have been the underdogs in this tournament."

He believes that more Moroccan fans will arrive in the next few days before semi-final tussle with France.

"They surprised everybody as not a lot of people expected that," he said. "They brought the whole Arab world together. It’s such a great experience."

Mahfoudh Al Mufaelhy, 26, came to Doha from Rabat when his team qualified from the group stage and watched the historic victory against Spain, followed by another win against Portugal.

“They made us stand on our toes, thrilled with excitement from day one,” he said. "My only wish was to have an honourable performance in the tournament but now our eyes are fixated on the title."

“Many of my friends called me from Rabat asking for the tickets and gearing up to come to Doha to support our team. Fans are as good as the 12th player for Morocco.

“Morocco is on the road to something bigger and magical.”

Many Moroccans last Friday rushed to book seats on the seven additional flights that state airline Royal Air Maroc put on to help fans reach Qatar for the quarter-final against Portugal.

Now, with only four of 32 teams left, Morocco is the sole Arab and African nation at this stage at the first World Cup being held in the Middle East. They might be standing on the brink of glory.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 2:40 AM