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Qatar 22: Morocco Holds Africa’s Last Hope

Morocco National team will on Tuesday play Spain in the round of sixteen at the FIFA World Cup at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan. 

It will be another battle for the Atlas Lions to keep Africa’s aspirations of having a team in the World Cup quarterfinals and possibly the semifinals alive, as no African nation has ever advanced past the World Cup’s last eight.  

The best that African representatives have done in past editions of the tournament is qualify for the quarter-finals in 1990, 2002, and 2010, but they have yet to break the curse.

Africa’s hopes for a team in the semifinals rest on Morocco, as they are the only remaining team after Ghana, Cameroon, and Tunisia were eliminated in the group stages. Senegal was eliminated by England in the round of sixteen.  

Despite having just one team in the competition, this year, African teams performed slightly better than the 2018 edition in Russia, where all five African nations were ousted in the group stages, totaling eleven points collectively.

The Moroccans face a more resilient team in Spain, which is known for its flashy tik-tak style of play, which is also familiar to Morocco. Spain finished second in Group E behind Japan.  

Morocco, on the other hand, overturned the odds to lead Group F with seven points after defeating Belgium and Canada and drawing with Croatia. They are making their second appearance in the knockout stage of the world’s most famous football event.  

This will be the second time Spain and Morocco have played against one another at a World Cup. Their previous meeting came in 2018 which ended in a two-all-draw in a group stage encounter.  

Morocco’s goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou, told the media at the pre-match press conference that the team had already created history” by reaching the last 16, but that they wanted to achieve more.  

Spain defender Rodrigo Hernández also assured the media that his side will stick with its tik-tak style of play, despite the fact that Morocco is used to it. The winner of Tuesday’s clash will face either Portugal or Switzerland on December 10.   

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