PARIS: From Rabat to Lille, the disappointment could be seen on the faces of Morocco’s supporters on Saturday after defeat by Croatia in the 2022 World Cup third-place match, although some preferred to remember the Lions’ historic run. Atlas.
Without comparison with the previous scenes of public jubilation, only a few dozen people celebrated on Saturday night the performance of the Atlas Lions, beaten (2-1), in the center of the Moroccan capital to the sound of drums, vuvuzelas and horns, AFP journalists noted.
“We were hoping that they could win against France in the semi-final and also against Croatia today and welcome them with the king with the third place, but alas,” noted Fatema Zahra, a supporter of 23 years.
Despite the defeat, many said they were proud of the men’s journey for Walid Regragui, the first African team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup. Until the World Cup in Qatar, the African selections had never gone further than the quarters.
“We didn’t imagine this whole journey, they got to the semi-finals and they should have been in the final, but no luck!” Said Mohcine, 36, draped in the national red and green colors.
In Paris, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, the usual venue for celebrations, has remained in the hands of tourists.
Police were present in large numbers to contain the crowd, but not a single Moroccan fan was in sight an hour after the match ended, AFP journalists noted.
In Marseille, patrons of the British Club left this bar in the Old Port as soon as the final whistle blew.
“I’m going to eat to forget, I’m too disappointed,” Maryam, a 22-year-old student who watched the final minutes with her mouth open, told AFP.
During the six long minutes of stoppage time, faces remained serious, with some fans sighing while others held their hands over their faces.
Fetti, a 24-year-old Albanian plasterer, supported Morocco because “it was the surprise, they deserved it”.
But on Sunday he is behind France, who face Argentina in the final.
In a bar in Lille, some Moroccan supporters were shaking in the last minutes, as they wanted to believe in a penalty, which the referee finally did not give.
“We are disappointed because we deserved to win today and especially disappointed to have lost against France (in the semi-final) or it was a bit close,” said Aziz Lebdaoui. , 56, to AFP after the final whistle.
“But I am very proud because it is the first time that an Arab, African team has reached this stage and it is very honorable. I think we can dedicate this place to Africa”, he is happy.
Around 12,800 police and gendarmes were mobilized across the country on Saturday to ensure the safety of the celebrations.
On Wednesday, the celebration of the qualification of the Blues in the final had been left behind by the death of a teenager, knocked down by a driver in Montpellier.
Incidents had already occurred after Morocco qualified for the semi-finals and during Morocco’s victory against Belgium in the group stage.
On Sunday, 14,000 police and gendarmes will be deployed across the country, including 2,750 in Paris, where the Champs-Elysées will be reserved for pedestrians only.