Morocco: Historic win honors Arab world, Africa

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AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Morocco defender Jawad El Yamiq mentioned his group “honored Arab and African soccer” after gorgeous Spain 3-0 in a penalty shootout in Tuesday’s World Cup spherical of 16 match that completed goalless after additional time.

With the consequence, Morocco grew to become the primary Arab nation and fourth from Africa to achieve the competitors’s quarterfinal stage — surpassing the Atlas Lions’ earlier best-ever end in exiting on the spherical of 16 at Mexico 1986. They’ll face Portugal on Saturday with a spot within the semifinals on the road.

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“We honored Arab and African soccer. Coach [Walid] Regragui gave us the boldness that we would have liked on this recreation, an enormous increase in morale,” El Yamiq instructed beIN Sports activities.

“We knew that Spain trusted their ball possession and we performed with that in thoughts. They did not impose any hazard.”

The Moroccans have been enjoying in solely their second knockout recreation at a World Cup, an occasion which is being held within the Center East for the primary time in its practically 100-year historical past.

“Proper now’s a particular second for all Africa, for all of the Arab nations, for all of the Muslims round this world,” Morocco midfielder Azzedine Ounahi mentioned. “You attempt to make them glad, attempt to make ourselves glad. And I believe it goes fairly nicely.”

The World Cup in Qatar is the primary to be performed within the Arab world and solely the second to be held in Asia. The event started with one of many greatest upsets in historical past when Saudi Arabia beat two-time champion Argentina on the third day of motion.

The Saudis have been eradicated, as have been host Qatar and Tunisia, within the group stage. That left Morocco because the Arab world’s commonplace bearer.

“I am very happy with my followers, of my individuals and Arabic individuals,” mentioned Regragui, who’s the primary African to educate an African group to the quarterfinals.

“Additionally as a result of I believe you might have Qatari individuals right here, possibly Algerian individuals, Tunisian individuals, Arabic individuals and African individuals.”

In entrance of a packed crowd of 44,667 at Schooling Metropolis Stadium, most of whom have been rooting for Morocco, the Atlas Lions pissed off one of many event favorites for 120 minutes.

As soon as within the shootout, goalkeeper Yassine Bounou was the hero with two saves that helped carry Morocco to a historic victory.

“There’s a little bit little bit of feeling, luck, there’s not a lot you possibly can actually say about it,” Bounou, who performs for Spanish membership Sevilla, mentioned about his technique within the post-game information convention.

“You know the way penalties are, it is simply a kind of issues.”

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Coach Regragui, although, was stuffed with reward for his skilled goalkeeper as Spain grew to become simply the second group in World Cup historical past to not rating in a penalty shootout.

“When you might have a goalkeeper like we’ve got, then you might have each probability of going by means of, despite the fact that it is a danger to undergo penalties,” he mentioned.

The coach and his gamers additionally paid tribute to the supporters who roared them on all through the greater than two hours.

“We knew that we had super assist behind us and we drew from that vitality tonight,” Regragui mentioned.

Added winger Sofiane Boufal: “The Morocco followers are the most effective on this event. They provide us a lot power. They’re our twelfth man.”

Morocco headed into Tuesday’s knockout match off the again of ending forward of 2018 finalists Croatia and semifinalists Belgium to prime Group F, whereas Spain completed second behind Japan in Group E.

The encounter marked the second consecutive World Cup that the groups have confronted one another, beforehand enjoying to a 2-2 draw within the group stage of the 2018 event.

Morocco are actually on a five-game undefeated streak in World Cup matches, which breaks a four-game report for the nation within the 1970 and 1986 editions of the competitors.

Spain have now failed to achieve the quarterfinals in 4 of their final 5 World Cup appearances, the one exception being after they gained the event in 2010.

Info from the Related Press was used on this report.

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