Simphiwe Dludlu column: Morocco not done dreaming at World Cup

Kylian Mbappe has five goals to his name in Qatar. Picture: Martin Divisek EPA

Kylian Mbappe has five goals to his name in Qatar. Picture: Martin Divisek EPA

Published Dec 14, 2022


Johannesburg - Morocco have created World Cup history by becoming the first African team to make it to the semi-finals in the tournament’s history.

But they are not done dreaming yet.

They have beaten Spain, they’ve knocked out Portugal and now they are looking to take the fight to the French.

A continent is behind them and they will have a huge crowd who have made their way to Qatar to sweep Morocco along on an exciting World Cup wave of joy, exhilaration and success.

France will be favourites of course, they are the defending World Cup champions, they’ve been cool and calm and they deserve respect.

But Morocco are driven by passion, emotion and heart, and they will push France all the way.

Every Moroccan player has been a hero in Qatar, with goalkeeper Yassine “Bono” Bounou yet to concede a goal to an opponent in five games.

His late save to deny Joao Felix in the quarter-final was absolutely brilliant, one for the highlight reels, while his Sevilla teammate Yousseff En-Nesyri’s incredible 2.7 metre leap into the air to head home the winner against Portugal is another goal that will remain part of World Cup folklore.

Morocco are running on adrenaline, and they will throw everything at France. The Atlas Lions have been phenomenal in Qatar, playing with physicality and finesse, Hakim Ziyech and Achrafe Hakimi among those who have shown just how good they are.

Captain Roumaine Sass has run himself into the ground in defence of his country’s jersey, while hard-working midfielder Sofyan Amrabat has made the world sit up and take notice of his lung-busting high-energy, full-hearted displays in the heart of Morocco’s midfield.

France have shown their calibre as defending champions. They’ve got talent and ability in bucketloads, with Kylian Mbappe being the standout, where he has already scored five goals.

Ousmane Dembele has shown why Barcelona have shown so much faith in him with some classy, energetic displays down the right wing, with Antoine Griezmann also showing his class and Olivier Giroud scoring goals when his country has needed him most.

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Wednesday’s semi will be a high-tempo, end-to-end classic that is sure to deliver plenty of drama.

The tournament has given so much, and it will have a few more twists and turns yet.

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Wednesday’s match is a really tough one to call, the Moroccans are heroes no matter what the outcome.

But they are driven by a higher power in Qatar, and they’re not ready to call it quits.

My head says France will edge this one, but my heart says Morocco – and I’m going with my heart and backing Morocco to take African football fans into football nirvana.

Simphiwe Dludlu’s Prediction: France 1 Morocco 2