Morocco hero Sofyan Amrabat pays tribute to remarkable team spirit for World Cup success

Atlas Lions have conceded only one goal in astonishing run to last four in Qatar

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Morocco midfielder Sofyan Amrabat attributes his side’s remarkable World Cup run to their unshakable team spirit, saying the history-makers will “run until the end” to realise their dream.

On Saturday, the North Africans became the first from their continent, and the first team from the Arab world, to advance to a World Cup semi-final, beating 2016 European champions Portugal 1-0 at Al Thumama Stadium in Al Wakrah. They meet world champions France at Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday for a place in the final.

Morocco, who qualified for the knockout stage for the first time since 1986 by finishing top of their group, are unbeaten in Qatar, conceding only once in five matches. They have drawn with Croatia and Spain – they defeated the latter in the last 16 on penalties – and beaten Canada, Belgium and Portugal.

Speaking after the Portugal win, Amrabat was asked what the secret to Morocco’s amazing tournament has been.

“The secret? To defend really good,” he said. “Not only today, the whole tournament, how we play, how we defend, our fighting spirit, like a team. And you see in football: it’s not individuals that make the difference, but the best team make the difference.

“And also me today, I started the game, I wasn’t 100 per cent fresh. But it’s the World Cup, so you have to give everything you have. Run like crazy until the end. And that’s what we did.”

Amrabat, 26, has been one of the many stars for Morocco in Qatar, with the Fiorentina midfielder acting as an impressive screen for his defence in the middle of the pitch.

Sofyan Amrabat has been one of Morocco's standout players at the World Cup. AFP

He appeared post-match at Al Thumama Stadium with an ice pack taped to his knee, but promised to do whatever he could to ensure Morocco’s stay in Qatar extends beyond France.

“It’s very hard, because I think I played almost 30 games this season in three, four months,” Amrabat said. “But you have no choice – we are in the semi-finals.

“So everybody has to go until the end, has to ask the maximum from themselves, from his body. Now it’s important to recover good, and we will do it.”

Asked if Morocco could indeed go on and win the World Cup, Amrabat replied: “Yes. Why not?”

Updated: December 12, 2022, 8:50 AM