Corner of west London erupts in celebration after Morocco's World Cup win

Crowds of people gathered in Ladbroke Grove, an area popular with the Moroccan community

Morocco fans in London after the Morocco v Portugal match. Reuters
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A corner of west London erupted with celebration on Saturday as Morocco staged an upset to proceed to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Qatar.

Crowds gathered in the heart of London's Moroccan community in Ladbroke Grove before the big game against Portugal.

Hundreds of people, many of whom were clutching or wrapped in flags, stood beneath a large screen on Golborne Road to watch the match.

Some climbed out of the windows of flats, perching on a terrace above a row of shops.

The area erupted with joy following Morocco’s win, as fireworks lit the sky and people revved their engines and honked their car horns in celebration.

The atmosphere was carnival-like, as people partied with painted faces, waving their flags.

“I am very proud of the team. I am very proud of their achievement,” Meryem El Mouhid, who is from Casablanca but lives in London, told The National after the win.

“It’s also the first. It’s so many firsts. The first Arab country to get to the semi-finals. The first African country. And also because they were the underdog. I am super proud. I can’t describe it.”

Another fan, whose face was painted in red and green in the colours of the country’s flag said: “It’s an amazing feeling. We never thought we could get this far but we kept believing. I can’t explain it. I am so happy.”

Elsewhere in London, England supporters hoped for a similar upset in their game against favourite France.

Kylian Mbappe was the man in many people’s minds as they looked ahead to the 7pm kick-off.

“I think it’s going to be a really tight game either way. It’s not just going to be solely about Mbappe and Walker,” Michael Pike, 41, a strategy director who lives in London told The National.

“It’s going to be solely about how the whole of the England team copes with the threat of Mbappe.”

He said the game will be an interesting encounter between two “European heavyweights”.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if England caused a bit of an upset. I think France go into it as favourites. But England has a really good chance of overcoming them and getting a good result.”

Fellow London resident Milo McConaghy, 29, said it was the biggest match of his lifetime as an England supporter.

“In terms of a team and cohesiveness of them all, I think this is the best I have ever seen,” he told The National.

He said on paper Frank Lampard’s squad was better, but this one is more cohesive.

“I think this is the most likely England can succeed as everyone plays together and there is no one natural star in the team.

“So I think France come in as favourites, but I don’t see them actually winning the game today because I think they are all individuals and I spoke about the team. Football is a team sport. I think today is going to make the French shed a few tears.”

Yousef Osman, 27, an Egyptian student living in London was not so sure.

“I think it’s going to be a very tough game for England,” he said.

“France are a much better squad but England is on a high now. They have been playing well since the tournament started. But it’s France. They won the World Cup in 2018 and they are just a very good team. So I think France will go through but it will be very close. I would say like 2-1 to France.”

Updated: December 11, 2022, 10:34 AM