Morocco Repeats Football Exploit With Historic Win Against Five-Time World Champions Brazil

The kind of dream you don’t want to wake up from

It feels like it was just yesterday when Morocco embarked on a stellar journey towards the 2022 Qatar World Cup’s semi-finals, becoming the first-ever Arab and African country to ever reach that stage of the football competition. Bringing tears of joy to millions around the globe, the epic run, that saw the Lions of the Atlas consecutively fence against Spain and Portugal before suffering from a disheartening defeat versus France, was labeled the success story of the quadrennial tournament, leaving fans of football wondering whether coach Walid Regragui’s boys would be able to repeat their podium performances after the official end of the competition.

It’s been three months now since Morocco said its farewells in Qatar, heading to Tangiers to perennially stamp its presence on the planet’s highest stages of football against five-time FIFA World Cup winners Brazil in a friendly game. The highly anticipated fixture on March 26 weighed heavy in symbolism in the minds of the mountakhab’s followers.

Having only previously met twice, once in 1997 for a first-ever friendly and again in 1998 in the group stages of the World Cup in France (two times in which Morocco lost to an aggregated 5-0), this forthcoming match meant much to fans as despite the vindictive nature of the encounter, being able to book an on-pitch meeting with Brazil is not something that any team can do — let alone hosting them on home soil when outside of Europe and South America. In our books, this was already a win for the African continent and Arab World.

With the strong intent of proving that their recent statistics had nothing to do with luck but instead hard work and heavy investment from authorities in facilities, scouting, and managing, once again, Morocco’s top boys made themselves heard loud and clear by claiming a historic win against their South American opponents on Sunday.

In a tense game, that was anything but friendly as players clashed several times out of frustration and temper, the Lions of the Atlas took an early lead in the fixture with Sofiane Boufal granting his native side with a stunning head start from close range mere minutes after La Selecao’s goal was ruled offside by the match’s umpire with the help of VAR technology.

Ahead of their adversaries by one small point by halftime, Brazil leveled up in the 67th minute with Manchester United’s defensive midfielder Carlos Casemiro taking advantage of a mistake made by Morocco’s goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, who let a relatively weak shot slip under his arms, which brought Brazil back into the game and pressured their rivals for the night to become more aggressive on the ball.

Moroccan efforts were eventually rewarded as Abdelhamid Sabiri, who was subbed on in the second half, put his side ahead again with a crossbar-hitting volley that was cheered in unison by the 65,000 supporters who made their way to the sold-out Ibn Battuta stadium in Tangiers.

Concluding the game on another win, Moroccan players left the pitch celebrating as they got used to doing in Qatar, sealing their position as one of the most in-form teams of the moment as they remain the highest-ranked non-European and South American side in FIFA’s official ranking. Adding another chapter to their book of broken records, Morocco managed to write history by becoming the first Arab team to overcome Brazil in an official fixture and the second African one after Cameroon’s two-time surprises in 2002 and 2022.

“It feels like I’m dreaming,” Regargui told reporters following the friendly clash before adding that it was “The mental state of the team made the difference and made people happy again and that’s what is important.”

With players having broken their fast a handful of hours before the official kick-off, celebrations were made even more special given the surrounding context of the squad’s comeback triumph against one of the world’s most esteemed teams coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan.

Unfortunately, festivities were a tad tarnished as the national teamed traveled to Spain ahead of their game versus Peru with a 27-year-old hotel employee being arrested following racist comments made online targeting players for their display of faith. Despite the gravity of the situation, Regragui delivered a composed and mature response addressing the incident which highlighted Morocco’s unwavering resolve in the face of adversity of any kind.

“It has affected the players a lot and the people of Morocco as well. I think we should not do more than that, he is a young boy and he is going to learn from this. Now with social networks, there are kids who are lost. There is racism in life, but I think it’s something more social than a kid’s problem. He’s a kid who has a life after this, and I don’t want to ‘kill’ him’.”

Filling supporters with pride on and off the pitch, one can only wonder how far this team will go and who will try and put an end to Morocco’s current momentum as at this point it seems that only the sky is the limit for them.

Share this article

Related stories