Morocco Just Became the First African and Arab Nation to Reach the World Cup Semifinals

The underdogs are two wins away from a potential World Cup championship.

Morocco's goalkeeper Bono and Morocco's Achraf Hakimi cheer after their victory over Portugal.Tom Weller/AP

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First, it was Belgium. Then it was Spain. Today, it was Portugal. Morocco has defeated yet another European soccer powerhouse to become the first African and Arab nation to advance to the semifinals in World Cup history.

The final score was 1-0 with the only goal coming off a leaping header from Youssef En-Nesyri late in the first half.

Morocco’s goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, better known as Bono, kept yet another clean sheet as he emerges as the tournament’s unlikely hero. Thus far, Morocco has only allowed in one goal—an own goal—during the World Cup. 

Before going up against Morocco on Saturday, Portugal had won its last game against Switzerland 6-1. And just like he did against Switzerland, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, one the biggest soccer stars of his generation, started the game on the bench in what is likely to be his last World Cup.

Morocco’s fans are understandably ecstatic both at home and in Qatar, where they have become the de facto home team.

Moroccan players have made a point of highlighting the political significance of their place in the tournament. Following their win against Spain earlier this week, players celebrated with a Palestinian flag in solidarity.

On Wednesday, Morocco will face the winners of Saturday’s match against France and England. A match against France, which made Morocco a protectorate in 1912, would hold special significance. France currently leads England 1-0.

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