The 1-0 win over Portugal was celebrated further, with exuberant fans from Abidjan in the Ivory Coast to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia praising what they considered a historic victory for Africa and the Arab world.
“They made us happy and proud and they proved that they can go to the final. Why not? We are so proud of this team which is supported by Africa and the Arabs,” said Siham Motahir, a young woman in Rabat, where cafes had filled with fans to watch the game.
To the rhythmic sound of a horn, men and women jumped up and down waving the Moroccan flag – part of a sea of people that had filled downtown Rabat, raising a cacophonous din of triumph.
The victory over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal is Morocco’s third over a highly ranked European side in the tournament, a run that has delighted both Morocco and Africans and Arabs more broadly.
African Union Chairperson Macky Sall wrote on Twitter, in all caps to underscore his enthusiasm: “HISTORIC! AND FANTASTIC! THE ATLAS LIONS QUALIFIED FOR THE WORLD CUP SEMI-FINALS! BRAVO MOROCCO.
HISTORY! AND FANTASTIC! THE ATLAS LIONS ARE QUALIFIED FOR THE SEMI-FINALS OF THE WORLD CUP! BRAVO MOROCCO.
— Macky Sall (@Macky_Sall) 1670691545000
Arab and African political and sporting leaders paid tribute to Morocco, including tweets from the prime ministers of Libya, Iraq and the Palestinian Authority and leaders of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
Former Ivorian football star Didier Drogba tweeted: “They did it!!!! Congratulations to Morocco for this achievement. Long live Africa.”
In an Abidjan cafe where people watched the game and drank beer to celebrate the victory, customer Jules Goule said the Ivorians were proud of Morocco’s victory. “Through Morocco, Africa has just shown that it can compete with other continents in football,” he said.
That’s it, they did it!!!!
— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) 1670691436000
ARAB AND AFRICAN JOY
“Waoh, waoh… Morocco! It’s with great joy! Africa shines! Go Africa!” shouted Agwe Jefferson, 28, a driver in Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé.
In Libya, a crowd watching the match in the port city of Misrata lit red flares and waved Libyan and Moroccan flags, while in the Tunisian capital people celebrated the victory.
“Today Morocco paid tribute to Africans and Arabs and made possible the dream we all have,” Ameur Souilam said in Tunis.
Mother & Son ❤️❤️🇲🇦🇲🇦 #Morocco #المغرب https://t.co/6Yeof4SQlF
— Ihtisham Ul Haq (@iihtishamm) 1670694059000
Meanwhile, in the Palestinian territories and Israel, thousands of people packed cafes, restaurants and soccer stadiums to watch the game, bursting with joy as Morocco triumphed. After its previous victory, the Moroccan team posed with the Palestinian flag.
“Seeing the Palestinian flag waved by Moroccan footballers made us feel like we had won,” said Gaza businessman Imad Joudat.
In London’s Edgware Road district, long a center of the city’s Arab community, the street was jammed with cars honking and waving flags and in Paris, Moroccan supporters chanted and cheered down the Champs-Élysées.
SINGING, waving a flag, cheering
Moroccan fans erupted when Youssef En-Nesyri scored the game’s only goal. In the Jmaa al-Fnaa, Marrakech’s historic main square where authorities had set up a large screen for fans, thousands of people jumped up and down as the ball entered.
As the match progressed, the Moroccan fans in the stadium shouted “Ole, ole, ole!” in unison, drowning out the handful of Portuguese fans and whistling each time Portugal gained possession.
Behind the two goals, benches of Moroccan supporters stood throughout the match with drummers and supporter leaders coordinating the chants.
Morocco fans 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/0DntKLvMnv
—Aziz Farah (@azizfaarah) 1669915889000
A man carrying Morocco’s red and green national flag and his football kit raised his hands in pleading as the final minutes ticked by, shouting “O God, oh God”.
In the media box, a security guard, screaming in triumph, hugged a Moroccan journalist who was crying with happiness.
As Moroccan player Jawad El Yamiq circled the pitch with a half-Moroccan, half-Qatari flag draped around his shoulders, a fan stood motionless, staring at the pitch with his hands over his mouth as if unable to to grasp the magnitude of winning.
Outside the stadium, a drummer led the fans in a chant of “Go, go, go” before they sang “Al-Andalus al-Andalus” – the name of the historic Muslim state that once ruled over Spain and Portugal, the two teams Morocco have now knocked out.
Incredible scenes in Rabat, Morocco 🇲🇦 of fans celebrating booking their quarter-final spot for the first t… https://t.co/P5Gr2yhIYr
—Mimi Fawaz (@MimosaFawaz) 1670355389000
With many Moroccans living and working in the Gulf, Morocco’s World Cup matches felt like home games and Ismail Chakour, a Dubai-based banker, said he was determined to attend the match “whatever whatever the price.”
In Rabat, cheery supporters took to the streets and made their way to the downtown square where Morocco’s victories are celebrated.
Children were hoisted onto parents’ shoulders and bounced around with the rest of the crowd, singing songs and waving flags.
“The last few minutes lasted for hours,” said Samir Saqri as he joined a crowd heading out of the cafe where they had watched the match towards the city centre.