Dima Maghreb: Luck or Long Overdue?




The 2022 World Cup has been nothing short of groundbreaking wins and a myriad of controversies. The World Cup, since its inception in 1930, has been one of the most popular and uniting tournaments across the globe. Every 4 years, the best teams from across the world play at a designated host location in a series of football rounds to ultimately win the coveted, solid gold trophy. The teams that have won (in order) goes as follows: Uruguay, Italy, Italy, Uruguay, Germany, Brazil, Brazil, England, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Argentina, Germany, Brazil, France, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Germany, and France. 


The host location for the 2022 World Cup is in Doha, Qatar, and with it, comes the obligation of adhering to the laws of the host country. Despite Qatar hosting such a big tournament, it was evident that the country needed to make numerous infrastructure additions and adjustments to be able to accommodate such an influx of people. There were a total of 7 new stadiums created and over 100 hotels. To perform such a task, Qatar has been accused of violating human rights as they lured migrant workers from primarily Southeast Asia and Africa to work on building temporary stadiums and accommodations for the humid heat. The humid and dry heat was another controversy as the World Cup was forced to be in the winter out of necessity; something that has never been done before. Other restrictions include alcohol consumption, pork consumption, and any narcotic drugs. 


But this world cup is not just historic for the spur of controversies surrounding it, or the humid climate it is placed in, but for the success of one of the most underdog teams. Consisting of Paris-Saint Germain player Achraf Hakimi as a defender, Yassine Bounou as goalkeeper, and Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, the Morocco team proved themselves through matches against some of the most elite teams in the world. Morocco, alongside Croatia, are the only two teams remaining in the 2022 World Cup that have been undefeated in every match thus far. 


In the group stage, which is the initial stage that all world cup teams play in to get the two highest scores to proceed to the next level, Morocco tied with Croatia on November 23, 2022. Shortly after, Morocco shocked the world and scored 2-0 against Belgium. Afterward, Morocco beat Canada 2-1 and secured their place as the team with the highest points earned in their group. After advancing to the Round of 16 where teams battled to reach the semi-finals, predictions across the board foretold Morocco’s loss against Spain. It was 0-0 until penalties came and the pure talent of Bounou shined through. After Bounou blocked three of Spain’s penalty kicks, Spain’s almost seemingly secured spot in the World Cup semi-finals diminished. As Hakimi prepared himself for the kick that would send Spain on a flight home and would secure Morocco’s spot in the semi-finals for the first time, there became a deafening silence in the Education City Stadium. He scores! His teammates ran to him and the day when Morocco became one of the three African countries and the first Arab and Muslim country to ever reach the World Cup quarterfinals. This history comes from a great sense of pride, especially from Madrid-born Hakimi, as he was offered to play for the very team that Morocco played against. He scored the penalty goal using a ‘panenka’, a tried and true technique to confuse the goalkeeper on where the shot was headed. 


Then came the game that would secure Morocco’s spot as the first African and Arab country to ever reach the European and South American-dominated semi-finals. The last time a Muslim country made it to the spot which Morocco is headed is Turkey in 1954 and 2002. In a tense game against Portugal, fans internationally were ready to send Morocco home as Cristiano Ronaldo played in arguably the tensest of the 2022 World Cup this far. Despite Portugal holding 74% possession of the ball throughout the game, in the 42nd minute, Moroccan-born Youssef En-Nesyri shot and scored a goal against Portugal leaving Morocco in the lead and eventually winning 1-0. 


After Morocco beat some of the best teams in the world, they secured themselves the national team as a force to be reckoned with. They “rewrote the World Cup books” after the Portugal game. Fans across the world, both Moroccan and others, have been seen in spectacular celebrations across the world. In New York, Moroccan French Montana made an appearance in the crowds celebrating in Times Square. Fireworks were set off in almost every Moroccan city, most notably in Casablanca, Fes, Tangier, Rabat, and Marrakech. 


Their performance in this World Cup is one that will be remembered, and we look forward to the next games.