Morocco first African side in World Cup semifinals


Morocco forward Youssef En-Nesyri is expected to spearhead today's goalscoring against France. Photo by Patricia De Melo Moreira, AFP

from HUSSEIN HUSSAIN in Doha, Qatar
DOHA, (CAJ News) – FOR the first time in the competition’s 92-year history, an African side has qualified for the semifinals of the football World Cup.

This after Morocco defeated Portugal 1-0 at the Al Thumama on Saturday.

A majestic header by Youssef En-Nesyr in the 42nd minute secured the win for the only side from Africa remaining in Qatar.

Previously, only Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) had been the three African sides to reach the quarterfinal but all lost at that stage.

Hence the odds were heavily stacked against the Atlas Lions in this encounter with Portugal’s Os Navegadores.

It is befitting that the first African side to qualify for the Last 16 (in 1986) is the first to qualify for the Last Four.

At the Al Thumama, Portugal enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession but again dogged defending by the North Africans again prevailed.

The goal by En-Nesyri was much against the run of play.

The striker benefited from a looping cross from the left by Yahia Attiyat Allah and hesitant goalkeeping by Diogo Costa.

The second half was all-Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo, a 51st minute substitute, leading the charge but the back four of Allah, Jawad El Yamiq, Achraf Hakimi and Romain held firm.

The withdrawal of Saiss through injury and the red card to Walid Chadira for a second bookable offence in stoppage time as well as eight minutes of injury time did not deter the Moroccans.

There was elation at the end of this, the best performance by an African team in World Cup history.

Morocco faces the defending champions France in the semifinals.

– CAJ News

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