Football fans are divided across Africa on whether to support Morocco at the FIFA World Cup 2022 as an African country. Many Moroccans identify themselves as Arabs before they can consider their affiliation with Africa. However, after their win against Spain, the Moroccan coach, Walid Regragui, clearly stated that the team was making Africa and the Arab world proud.
Before rejoining the African Union in 2017, Morocco had repeatedly applied to become a member of the European Union, but to no avail. This was viewed by many Africans as an attempt by Morocco to distance itself from the rest of the continent. However, Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch described Africa in one of his speeches as “the continent of belonging.”
Could Morocco win the World Cup for Africa?
The Atlas Lions are having a fantastic campaign in Qatar and have advanced to the round of eight for the first time thanks to a stunning penalty shootout victory over Spain. They also won a challenging Group F ahead of European powerhouses Croatia and Belgium. Moroccans flocked to the streets of Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakesh, and nearly every other major city in Western Europe and Africa to celebrate their victory over Spain.
Morocco’s campaign has made many Africans start believing that the Atlas Lions can actually bring the trophy to the mother continent. After the win, coach Walid Regragui made an extremely important declaration in his post-match press conference. “At some point in Africa, we have to be ambitious, and why not win the World Cup, even if it’s going to be hard?”
The announcement marked a paradigm shift in how African countries approach the World Cup, and it is appropriate that the announcement came from a local coach who embodies all that is admirable about African football: he is youthful, capable, cosmopolitan, brave, and fundamentally pan-Africanist.
The president of the Cameroon football federation, Samuel Eto’o, predicted that Cameroon would defeat Morocco in an all-African final in November. He was immediately mocked online, primarily by fellow countrymen. But it appears that Morocco is gearing up to compete all the way to the end.
Why Africa Has Not Won the World Cup
Africans attribute their failure to win the World Cup to colonization. In each of the seven World Cups that were held between 1930 and 1962, Egypt was the only participant from the continent. That is partially attributable to the harsh colonization of the continent by Western European countries, as well as past Fifa executives’ refusal to give Africa an automatic spot in the event.
Africa boycotted the 1966 World Cup in England to let FIFA know that it wanted a guaranteed spot in the event, which it eventually got in 1970. African teams pulled off stunning upsets over the following three decades, including Algeria’s victory over West Germany, Morocco’s elimination of Portugal, and Cameroon’s thrashing of Argentina.
In spite of this, Fifa was slow to act, giving African countries only two spots in 1982, three in 1994, and then five in 1998. Africa hasn’t yet won a World Cup, in part because it hasn’t really been playing. Almost a century after the first World Cup was held in Uruguay, Africa will finally receive a more equitable number of slots in the 2026 World Cup. Africa will receive about nine slots for the 2026 World Cup to be hosted in America.
Morocco vs Portugal Preview
After an exciting round of 16, the Atlas Lions will play Portugal this weekend in the World Cup quarterfinals. Morocco faces another enormous challenge to advance to the semi-finals. Portugal is a tough opponent to beat. Portugal’s performance against Switzerland on Tuesday was undoubtedly the most remarkable of the World Cup thus far. Fernando Santos’s men destroyed Switzerland 6-1.
Many Africans and Arabs around the world will be rooting for Morocco to triumph. Looking at the tactics of both teams and the quality of the squads, the match is unpredictable.