'Pride of the Arab world': Morocco fans in Dubai react to World Cup loss against France

Supporters say the North African team has taught them that anything is possible with a bit of hope

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Morocco fans have spoken of their gratitude to the World Cup team for giving them hope after France emerged victorious in Wednesday's semi-final.

After a surprising run of wins the North African team, supported by Arabs all over the world in their bid to win the trophy, achieved more than just a historic spot among the final four.

We are all so proud of them
Imad Yousef, Morocco fan

“Everyone was supporting Morocco tonight. Everyone except the French maybe,” said Soukaima Laouhidi, 29, a Moroccan who lives in Germany on business in Dubai.

“The atmosphere here is incredible, you can feel it in the air. Everyone believed in this team so much.”

Backing the underdog

Emotions ran high at the Dubai Media City fan zone as thousands crammed into the arena for the game.

Hundreds had queued outside just before kick-off to get a glimpse of the action as Morocco hoped to become the first African and Arabic nation to reach the final.

While the atmosphere was friendly, there was no doubt from the noise levels which team the vast majority were backing.

Fans roared their approval every time Morocco threatened and groaned in frustration when the French team retaliated.

Also backing the men in red and green was financial adviser Imad Yousef.

“They are the pride of the Arab world,” said Mr Yousef, 37.

“This is the first time a team has come this far from this region, to be playing in a World Cup semi-final is just incredible.

“We are all so proud of them.”

While the French team emerged victorious, fans were more than happy with the brave performance of the Moroccans.

An early French goal was not enough to dampen spirits, with fans roaring on the Atlas Lions.

Even a second goal, late on, for France could not stop the love most of the crowd in Dubai felt for Morocco.

The party atmosphere continued long after kick-off and some fans, not concerned by an early start in the morning, danced away to Abba blaring out of the speakers.

Ranim Hamed, 28, a Palestinian engineer, explained what the North African team meant to her.

“We feel real solidarity with them with because they fly the Palestinian flag when they celebrate,” she said.

“This is a team that never gives up hope and they gave us hope since the start of the World Cup.

“They have shown us that anything can happen if we have hope.”

Jordanian Matthew Madanat, like so many others, was decked out in red and green as he spoke about what the game meant to him.

“The overwhelming feeling this Morocco side gives you is a sense of pride,” he said.

“It is surprising to see a team from this region reach such a late stage of the tournament.

“I thought they would win 2-1 in the end.”

Unintimidated by the crowds of Morocco supporters was Russian David Rogynian, who appreciated the Arab nation's achievement but would not budge on his loyalty to the opposition.

“I backed France because every minute of every day of every week they are my team,” he said.

Updated: December 15, 2022, 11:18 AM