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FLOW Qatar Spotlight |A Moroccan dream, a reliable miss, and a sign of vulnerability

Published:Saturday | December 10, 2022 | 11:41 PMPaul-Andre Walker/Sports Editor, Orane Buchanan/Staff Reporter, Daniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
France's Aurelien Tchouameni (left) challenges for the ball with England's Bukayo Saka during their World Cup quarterfinal soccer match at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar on Saturday.
Morocco's Yahia Attiyat Allah (25) celebrates with teammates after the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match against Portugal at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, reacts after he failed to score during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match against Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.

Did England just show the kink in the French armor?

Paul-Andre Walker

When things go wrong, they really go wrong.

Cristiano Ronaldo through on goal, his team down 1-0, no dice. Harry Kane, a sure shot from 12 yards away, his team down 2-1, no dice.

The greatest show on earth is called the greatest show on earth for a reason. This is where the cream has already risen to the top, so from here, anything goes.

The pressure of the World Cup and how it is handled has as much to do with who wins and who loses as anything else.

Mr Reliable from the penalty spot missed it. But in truth, England had other opportunities that just didn’t quite come off. Also, in truth, the first time the galaxy of French stars were tested, they passed but …

… there are kinks in the armor. Defensively, France are more fragile than you would have first thought. Both penalties were on account of panic, so they aren’t unflappable.

Obviously, Croatia and Argentina have each other to think about first, but were I any of them, I would be licking my chops at the prospect.

But there’s another but.

The greatest African team in the history of the World Cup is now Morocco. And though injuries would seem to have done a number on their backline, they have proven unflappable. If they don’t blink, maybe there’ll be no France for either Croatia or Argentina to concern themselves about. Still, either of the two will have to be concerned. An African World Cup winner would have implications I would love to see.

A final with a tinge of Moroccan delight not far fetched

Orane Buchanan

And the dream lives on.

The fairytale of the ‘Atlas Lions’ continues to be written in Qatar. The very cliché, Sky’s the limit, certainly applies to them. The history-making Moroccan’s became Africa’s first nation to book a spot in the semi-final round of any FIFA World Cup. It is almost bizarre that the mighty Nigerian teams of the ‘90s, some very special Ghanaian teams, Cameroon, or in more recent times, Senegal had not achieved the feat. Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t. This team is yet to concede a goal from an opponent, as their single blemish was an own goal.

If a team can’t score against you, they can’t win. And this seems to drive the Walid Regragui-coached team. 2010 World Cup champions Spain were their round-of-16 victims, Portugal were their quarter-final victims, could the defending champions, France, be their next victims? I’m not betting against them, neither should you. Morocco are proving to be the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s giant slayers.

Ronaldo’s nightmare continues amid an African dream

Daniel Wheeler

History for Africa, history for the Arab World.

A moment nearly 100 years in the making. A moment that Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana had previously hoped to reach, the last nations from the continent to make the quaterfinals.

Morocco believed and seized thier moment to become the first African nation to make a World Cup semi-final.

They did it inspite of being in turmoil just a few months ago, their star player Hakim Ziyech left off the African Cup of Nations Squad earlier this year, and battles with then coach Vahid Halilhodzic forcing him to international retirement.

Walid Regragui only took the head coaching job in August, and he has, not only brought togetherness and belief back into the team, but a structure which paved the way for Ziyech's return. Though Morocco are walking wounded with injuries, the Atlas Lions got a goal and then defended valiantly to break the glass ceiling. Portugal could not break through Morocco's defensive wall and Cristiano Ronaldo’s last push for a world title ends in tears.