By: Gyang Dakwo
As the first Arab nation to reach a World Cup quarter-final, the Moroccan football team has revealed a secret weapon on its side that could take them all the way to the Doha final in 11 days.
A warm embrace between Morocco’s heroic players and their parents after the team’s dramatic shoot-out win over much-fancied Spain gave an insight into a key foundation of their success.
The Moroccan mothers who gave the world this rare band of north African superstars have been out in force in stadiums and at the team’s hotel to bring home comforts to the team’s pre-match preparations.
And that support has grown into a winning formula as the Atlas Lions march on to a last-eight tie against Portugal on Saturday.
After earning a hard-fought draw with 2018 finalists Croatia in their opening match, Morocco went on to beat Belgium ― the team ranked second in the world ― and then brush aside Canada 2-1.
Mothers of many of the players have been close by in the build-up to each of the matches, with their support proving invaluable.
Many were in tears as they warmly embraced their sons in the moments after Achraf Hakimi’s cheeky Panenka penalty sealed Morocco’s quarter-final place.
The striking scenes painted a heart-warming image of what it means to be a Moroccan mother ― one who never stops hugging her children, even when they are grown men, a mother full of tenderness, warmth, and pride.
That love has been reciprocated by the players, many of whom could be seen planting kisses on the foreheads of their mothers after matches in stadiums across Qatar at this World Cup.
It is a strong bond that shows the players are not alone in their quest to become the most successful Arab football team in World Cup history.