(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
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When the curtains were drawn on the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on December 18, 2022, with Lionel Messi-powered Argentina finally lifting the trophy that has eluded the football powerhouse for 36 years, the unanimous message on everyone's lips was that Qatar 2022 is arguably the best tournament in history.
One of the major, if not the top, revelations of the tournament has been the performance of the Atlas Lions of Morocco. The African and Arab team stunned the world by donning the toga of giant-killers, accounting for the slaying of European giants Belgium, Spain, and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, whom they defeated to book a semi-final ticket – the first for any African team in history since the World Cup started in 1930.
While the Atlas Lions were strutting their stuff on the field of play, the vociferous fans, who were celebrated for being one of the most passionate fan groups at the tournament, were passionately behind the team, singing, dancing, and shouting relentlessly at every game in support of their team.
Mohammed Aderdor, one of the Moroccan community leaders in Qatar and a dedicated and loyal fan of Atlas Lions during the World Cup, says the tournament will be remembered as a historical event that will change the history of not only Moroccan football, but also African and Arab football.
“With its historical performance, the Moroccan team has broken the delusional idea that African football cannot compete with Western football.“That wrong feeling was purely a psychological obstacle built on a complex of inferiority, and the Atlas Lions have succeeded in breaking that barrier, and I see African and Arab football progressing massively from here on,” Aderdor told The Peninsula.
“Another factor is that what Morocco did will have a significant impact on the participation of African football teams in future World Cups.“The number of African teams that will be participating in the World Cup might likely increase to nine, if not 10, based on FIFA's plan to expand participation from 32 to 38 teams starting with the 2026 World Cup,” he added.
Aderdor, who also enjoys playing football, noted that the organization of the tournament was simply amazing.
“Qatar did a great job, though part of the western media was underestimating Qatar's ability and readiness to organize the World Cup, but at the end, Qatar proved that it is a great country with great potential.”
He added that Qatar was a worthy representative of Asian and Arab countries, and what the country did should be applauded far and wide.
Speaking about the major highlights of his experience during the tournament, Aderdor said,“As fan leaders residing in Doha, we really experienced great things during this World Cup tournament. It was a good opportunity for us to go through all stages of the tournament. We received our national team upon arrival, and we visited the players during their training sessions.
He noted that in addition to the tens of fan leaders residing in Doha, the Moroccan Community was able to host a number of fan leaders from Morocco.
“Thanks to the Supreme Committee, which thankfully supported the idea and provided flight tickets, the Hayya card, accommodation, food, and transportation, we were able to bring in and host several fan leaders from local Moroccan football clubs such as Raja Casablanca, Wydad Casablanca, FAR Rabat, HUSA, and others that have a long history of supporting our national team.“It was a wonderful experience to have such huge support for the team,” Aderdor said.
He added that he looks forward to a repeat of the Qatar 2022 experience at the 2026 World Cup, which will be jointly-hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
“Our national team really deserves support. We will stand with our national team wherever it goes.“We are ready at all times to give them maximum support at any time and at any place,” he added.