FADEL SENNA / AFP
Moroccan supporters applauding their national team, in Rabat, Morocco, December 20, 2022.
MOROCCO – The scenes of jubilation were not only in Buenos Aires in Argentina this Tuesday, December 20. Tens of thousands of Moroccans indeed welcomed the Atlas Lions as heroes on their return to Rabat after an incredible epic which led them to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Qatar, an unprecedented feat for an African or Arab team.
A dense, joyful crowd of all ages and backgrounds gathered at the end of the afternoon along the route taken by the red double-decker bus where the men of Walid Reraguifrom the airport to the avenues in the center of the Moroccan capital.
🇲🇦 The exceptional atmosphere in Rabat for the return of Morocco’s heroes. https://t.co/HoMFEqO9bp
— RMC Sport (@RMCsport)
🇲🇦 Triumphal entry of the Atlas Lions on Avenue Mohammed V, scenes of jubilation seen from the rooftops of Rabat https://t.co/xxFAoBLSVv
– Le360 (@Le360fr)
The city of Rabat welcomes its heroes! 🤗 Here is the view from the Morocco players’ bus 🇲🇦 #FIFAWorldCup https://t.co/VW0idJ8iiV
— Foot Market (@footmarket)
“I came to celebrate the beautiful history of Morocco in the World Cup, and even if some decisions of the referees were not fair”told AFP Adam Najah, 27, a restaurant waiter who came expressly from Meknes, more than 150 km from Rabat, to “live this historic day”. “I am proud of the national team. Who knows ? We will win the cup maybe next time”he hopes.
Waiting for hours, many supporters wore the flag struck with the green star and the scarlet jerseys of the Cherifian kingdom.
In front of the station, they cracked smoke bombs and fired fireworks, in the middle of the shouts answering the greetings of the new stars and Regragui. We sang, we danced. Many immortalized the moment with their smartphones.
“I came to see them. I cannot describe my joy! They made us proud, we Moroccans, Arabs and Africans”exclaims Abdeljabbar Bouroua, 54, running so as not to miss the passage – too fast – of the bus avenue Mohammed V, the “Champs-Elysees” of Rabat.
Evening reception at the Royal Palace
“I would have liked to take them in my arms and kiss them. They passed quickly but we saw them. I haven’t been this happy in a long time.”says Leïla Messour, 19, a law student who came with her friends.
The entire team, which made all of Morocco dream and beyond its borders, was received in the evening at the Royal Palace by Mohammed VI “in recognition of his historic achievement”.
By the end, the Atlas Lions are met by
King Mohammed VI where the players alongside their mothers take a photograp… https://t.co/BWt5z1lq65
— Luis Miguel Echegaray (@lmechegaray)
The sovereign, accompanied by Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, thus decorated the president of the Moroccan Federation, the coach and the players who were accompanied by their mothers, according to the MAP press agency.
That one, in our history books. https://t.co/LTAFf9Nu01
— Moroccan players 🇲🇦 (@JoueursMA)
“The reception by His Majesty the King of the players accompanied by their mothers is a tribute paid to these Moroccan women who made sure to instill in their children the values of patriotism, sacrifice and national belonging”underlined the MAP.
The monarch is at the origin of a famous football academy which has become a nursery for Moroccan football.
Carried by an impressive popular fervor, the Atlas Lions broke a glass ceiling by reaching the last four of a World Cup, for the first time for an African or Arab team.
They took 4th place in the 2022 World Cup without having suffered the slightest defeat in the group stage and then eliminated two favorites in the round of 16 and quarters, Spain and Portugal, before falling against France (2-0), then Croatia in the match for third place (2-1).
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