UAE Lauds Morocco’s WC Saga

UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed thanked the Atlas Lions, saying they had raised the heads of Arabs in the largest international sports forum, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai sent a heartfelt message to Morocco after they lost to France yesterday night.

The Vice President thanked the Atlas Lions, saying they had raised the heads of Arabs everywhere.

“Proud of the lions. Proud of the performance. Proud of the spirit. Morocco raised the head of the Arabs in the largest international sports forum. Thank you, the Atlas Lions,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on twitter.

The reigning world champions France scored once in each half to overcome a spirited challenge of Morocco on Wednesday night at Al Bayt Stadium to set up a FIFA World Cup final showdown with Argentina on Sunday.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, also thanked the players, hoping their achievements would have a positive effect on Arab youth around the world.

“Thank you to the stars of the Moroccan national team. You honoured the Arabs with this exceptional football performance in the World Cup Qatar 2022, and you achieved pride for every Arab who knows that nothing is impossible with determination and ambition. The coming, God willing, is better for our Arab youth everywhere,” he wrote on twitter.

The Les Bleus took the lead through Theo Hernandez’s scrambled fifth minute goal. Randal Kolo Muani wrapped up matters in the 79th, less than a minute after coming on, after a fine solo from Kylian Mbappe.

France ended the fairytale run of the Atlas Lions in the tournament, with Dider Deschamps side bidding to become the first team in 60 years to win back-to-back titles. Only Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962 have clinched back-to-back titles.

Morocco and Croatia will play for third place on Saturday.

“The impossible is not Moroccan. The impossible is not Arab. The Atlas Lions’ victory is a source of joy and pride for all Arabs,” so expressed Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, his and all Arabs’ euphoria over last week’s historic win notched by Morocco over Spain in quarterfinals.

The Arab world, along with the leaders, rooted for the brave North African team throughout the tournament. Supporters in fan zones across the UAE went ecstatic as they followed their historic achievements in each and every game, Khaleej Times reported.

Reaching the semis is not only a triumph for Morocco but an additional gloss to another Arab success at the tournament, it was reported.

Meanwhile on Wednesday night Morocco, backed by their legion of supporters, who outnumbered France, were pushed all the way by World Cup wildcards. The scoreline belies their performance and how close the game was.

The first African side to reach a World Cup semi-final refused to buckle despite suffering the early blows of losing key defender Nayef Aguerd to injury after he was named in the starting line-up, and then an early goal.

France’s key player continued to be Antoine Griezmann’s and his reinvention as a playmaker has been a hot topic of the World Cup. His sharp movements create space for others to run into and also ensure he’s always available to receive the ball. France’s player of the tournament without any doubt.

Mbappe’s shot from near the penalty box was blocked but the deflection fell to Hernandez at the far post, who acrobatically lashed the ball home to net in a scrappy goal, 1-0.

The reigning world champions threatened on several occasions to extend their lead, but Morocco managed to pose problems too, particularly in an excellent period just before the interval, which saw the Atlas Lions create a string of goal-scoring opportunities.

Morocco responded well to the early goal and had France on the ropes in the early part of the second half. They were competitive and didn’t shy away from playing their game against the defending champions. (with inputs from Armstrong Vaz)

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