Doha, Qatar – It was ecstasy for Morocco and sheer anguish for Spain as the Atlas Lions defeated the former world champions on penalties at Qatar’s Education City Stadium and secured a quarter-final berth for the first time in World Cup history.
After Achraf Hakimi scored the winning penalty, Moroccan fans were jubilant beyond words, hugging and jumping with friends and family.
“I can’t believe it. This is one of the greatest moments in my life,” 27-year-old Amal Galidi told Al Jazeera. The Fez resident said both “Arabs and Africans” will be the “happiest people today”. “God has listened to our prayers,” he proclaimed.
Outside the stadium, hundreds gathered to sing football and national chants, posing gleefully for the cameras and in no mood to leave. The match felt like a home game for the Atlas Lions, with their supporters overwhelmingly outnumbering the Spanish fans.
Anass Boumlek, 26, from Marrakech, said he was “very, very happy”, adding that the victory “belongs to everyone” involved.
“The fans in the stands, the coaches, the players and all the staff, this belongs to everyone,” he said. “We are giving this win to everyone … all the Arabs, Africans and all the other nationalities that supported us.”
Boumlek, who lives in Doha, said that there will be a “party atmosphere” in Morocco and Qatar.