Doha, Qatar –
Morocco’s players share the World Cup spotlight with some of their most ardent fans: their mothers.
Many players brought their mothers and other family members to Qatar and joined them in the stadium to celebrate after the team’s series of impressive victories.
Midfielder Sofiane Bouffal danced with his mother on the pitch after Morocco became the first African and Arab nation to reach the World Cup semi-finals after beating Portugal 1-0 on Saturday. They held hands and danced in a circle, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Defender Ashraf Hakimi posted pictures on social media of his mother kissing him on the cheek after scoring the winning penalty in last 16. “I love you mom,” he wrote.
Even coach Walid Regragui has been celebrating with his mother, climbing up to the stands after Spain’s game to hug her amid jubilant Moroccan fans.
“We represent Morocco, so we have an image that has to be spread around the world,” the coach said on Tuesday. “Because the World Cup is the best window, if you will, we want to show our players and how close they are to their families. It’s part of our culture, it’s our hometown.”
Regragui said bringing his family to the World Cup was part of the team’s strategy to achieve the highest level.
“We’ve thought about it with the staff and we’ve thought about little things like having our families in there to try and build the team spirit that’s helped us go a long way in this competition,” he said.
Morocco will face defending champions France in Wednesday’s semifinal.
Chairman midfielder Elias said the support of his family means everything to the team.
“My parents and my wife are here … I think all the other players’ parents and families are here as well,” he said Tuesday. “It gave us a lot of strength and I hope it continues because if you watch the movies, the videos of the players and the parents after games, it’s just amazing. You’ll see tears in people’s eyes.”