AP PHOTOS: Morocco’s World Cup success stirs national pride

Dec 12, 2022, 12:55 PM | Updated: Dec 13, 2022, 3:01 am
A full moon rises over supporters of Wydad Athletic Club during the second leg of the CAF Champions...

A full moon rises over supporters of Wydad Athletic Club during the second leg of the CAF Champions League final against Egypt's Al Ahly Sporting Club, in Casablanca, Morocco, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2017. Wydad defeated Al Ahly 2-1 on aggregate to win the CAF Champions League. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

              Fans of Raja AC light flares during a match against FAR Rabat, in the Moroccan league, in Rabat, Morocco, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Morocco's national team head coach Walid Regragui presents the CAF Super Cup trophy before the game between Moroccan teams RS Berkane and Wydad AC, in Rabat, Morocco, Saturday Sept. 10, 2022. RS Berkane were crowned CAF Super Cup champions for the first time after defeating Wydad Casablanca 2-0 on Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Moroccans celebrate qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1998, in Rabat, Morocco, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. Morocco sealed its place by winning in Ivory Coast 2-0 in what was a straight shootout for the place from Group C. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Supporters of Morocco's RS Berkane light flares to celebrate their team's first goal against Wydad AC in the CAF Super Cup 2022 soccer match, in Rabat, Morocco, Saturday Sept. 10, 2022. RS Berkane were crowned CAF Super Cup champions for the first time after defeating Wydad Casablanca 2-0 on Saturday evening. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Players of FAR Rabat soccer team and their rivals Raja Casablanca compete for the ball during a match in the Moroccan league, in Rabat, Morocco, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Boys play football on a beach in Rabat, Morocco, Monday, June 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Children play football in the snow in Tighanmin, a Middle Atlas village near Azilal, central Morocco, Thursday Feb. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Morocco and DR Congo players walk at the beginning of the the soccer playoff match in World Cup 2022 Africa qualifiers, in Casablanca, Morocco, Tuesday, Mar 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Children play football in an alleyway in the old Medina of Marrakech, Morocco, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Youth play football during a locally-organized tournament between different tribes, in Kelaat M'Gouna town, southern Morocco, Monday Feb. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Security forces stand guard as fans of FAR Rabat soccer team light flares and chant slogans during a match against their rivals Raja Casablanca in the Moroccan league, in Rabat, Morocco, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Amazigh boys play football underneath the High Atlas mountains, next to Ouarzazate, central Morocco, Monday Feb. 1, 2016.. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              A full moon rises over supporters of Wydad Athletic Club during the second leg of the CAF Champions League final against Egypt's Al Ahly Sporting Club, in Casablanca, Morocco, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2017. Wydad defeated Al Ahly 2-1 on aggregate to win the CAF Champions League. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
            
              Morocco soccer fans celebrate after their national team beat Canada 2-1 and qualified to the knockout stages at a World Cup soccer match played in Qatar, in Rabat, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Many soccer fans around the world have been surprised by Morocco’s success at the World Cup in Qatar, where it became the first African and Arab country to make it to the semifinals of the tournament.

But the North African country has long had a deep passion for soccer. Young boys can be seen playing the game on the streets or on dusty fields, from the snowy foothills of the Atlas Mountains to the medina of Marrakech.

Local club teams such as Casablanca’s Wydad AC, Raja CA and Rabat’s AS FAR have die-hard fans known for vibrant chants and colorful choreographies.

Morocco coach Walid Regragui has become a national hero following the team’s impressive World Cup run. Before taking over the national team, he led Wydad AC to victory in this year’s African Champion’s League.

Morocco’s 1-0 victory over Portugal in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday sparked nationwide celebreations, with car horns sounding through the night in Casablanca, and residents thronging the streets of the capital, Rabat. Morocco next faces defending World Cup champion France on Wednesday in the semifinals.

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AP PHOTOS: Morocco’s World Cup success stirs national pride