The Qatar 2022 World Cup has become a tournament for the underdogs. The heavyweights of the World Cup have fallen by the wayside, with only Argentina and the defending champions France standing. The Qatar tournament has produced more than its fair share of upsets. It has become the gift that keeps giving.
If you are a neutral adrenaline dopehead, the Qatar 2022 tournament must have given you a merry good time, except one is keen on an overdose. The upsets have seen star performances from Saudi Arabia, Japan, Morocco and Croatia – yet the surprises keep coming. With four more games to be played to determine the world champions, it is hard to shake off the feeling there is more in the offing.
Morocco have been one of the star performers in the competition. Alongside Croatia, the Atlas Lions are yet to lose a game in the tournament. It has been one famous win after the other. The latest victory over Portugal suggests that Morocco is a force to be reckoned with, and their goalkeeper Yassine Bounou hopes it inspires future generations.
Morocco has had a fine run to the semi-final of the World Cup, but it has an uncanny resemblance to what South Korea did in 2002. With nobody giving South Korea (one of the hosts) a chance in the 2002 Mundial, they stunned the world by reaching the semi-final before losing to Germany.
Morocco has had a fairy-tale run to the semi-final of the World Cup, and their goalkeeper Yassine Bounou said he is still in dreamland. He called their run a miracle and hopes it inspires future generations to overcome their inferiority complex.
Following his 50th cap for the Atlas Lions, Bounou told reporters that it was still unbelievable. He said their coach Walid Regragui told them they were in Qatar to change the mentality of inferiority. Regragui made them believe a Moroccan player could face anyone in the world.
According to Bounou, the Atlas Lions have changed their mentality and proven to future generations that a Moroccan team can create miracles. Bounou said words elude him to describe the moment.
Morocco started the competition in a group that had Croatia, Belgium and Canada. They were supposed to be the underdogs, with Croatia and Belgium the favourites to qualify from the group. What they have done has confounded the football world, showing that the appellate minnow is just a description that rarely exists again in football.
Morocco started their World Cup campaign with a 0-0 draw against 2018 finalists Croatia. Many saw it as a fluke, but they surprised all as they recorded a resounding victory over Belgium and capped off the group stage with a 2-1 win over Canada.
The Atlas Lions followed their qualification to the round of 16 with a penalty shootout win over La Furia Roja. They became the first African country to reach the semi-final of the World Cup by beating Portugal 1-0 at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday.
Bounou, whose heroics for Morocco is a vital factor to the successes recorded by the Atlas Lions in Qatar, received the gong for the man-of-the-match in the victory over Portugal.