Morocco players reveal secret of their Spain success at Qatar World Cup

Mothers have been out in force in stadiums and at the team hotel to support their superstar sons

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As the first Arab nation to reach a World Cup quarter-final, the Moroccan football team has a secret weapon on its side that could take them all the way to the Doha final in 11 days.

A warm embrace between Morocco’s heroic players and their parents after the team’s dramatic shoot-out win over much-fancied Spain gave an insight into a key foundation of their success.

The Moroccan mothers who gave the world this rare band of north African superstars have been out in force in stadiums and at the team's hotel to bring home comforts to he team's pre-match preparations.

And that support has grown into a winning formula as the Atlas Lions march on to a last-eight tie against Portugal on Saturday.

After earning a hard-fought draw with 2018 finalists Croatia in their opening match, Morocco went on to beat Belgium ― the team ranked second in the world ― and then brush aside Canada 2-1.

Mothers of many of the players have been close by in the build-up to each of the matches, with their support proving invaluable.

Many were in tears as they warmly embraced their sons in the moments after Achraf Hakimi’s cheeky Panenka penalty sealed Morocco’s quarter-final place.

Morocco's defender Achraf Hakimi, right, is greeted by his mother with midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri after the match against Belgium on November 27, 2022. AFP

The striking scenes painted a heart-warming image of what it means to be a Moroccan mother ― one who never stops hugging her children, even when they are grown men, a mother full of tenderness, warmth and pride.

That love has been reciprocated by the players, many of whom could be seen planting kisses on the foreheads of their mothers after matches in stadiums across Qatar at this World Cup.

It is a strong bond that shows the players are not alone in their quest to become the most successful Arab football team in World Cup history.

While many professional players around the world incorporate family members into their business operations, the role of Moroccan mums offers moral and spiritual support through challenging times.

These players will face few more testing challenges than a World Cup penalty shoot-out in front of a TV audience of millions.

Knowing their mothers were not far away, clearly enabled them to step up with confidence and deliver for their nation.

Updated: December 07, 2022, 9:53 AM