By Mourad Anouar
By Mourad Anouar
Morocco World News
Oklahoma City, February 26, 2012
It is time to bust the myth that Moroccan soccer is nothing but bygone days. Yesterday’s Mas victory over Tunisia’s Esperance is another reminder that we Moroccans not only know to play well this world’s favorite game, but we can compete and win even on the international level.
This revitalizing victory came after a humiliating representation of Moroccan soccer in the last African cup which was hosted jointly by the countries of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea from January 22 to February 12. After being largely nominated to bring home the Africa’s most precious and significant sport trophy, Morocco’s soccer team came back demeaningly empty-handed.
For Moroccans who watched the first three games, their hopes were crashed again after they experienced the same tragedy fourteen years ago when we were out of competition in the quarter finals in Burkina Faso in 1998. Forms of frustrations, sadness and anger among fans reached the peak as soon as our exit from the African Cup’s competition was confirmed.
I remember I had this mélange of sadness and anger, but I never ceased to have faith in our ability to resurrect. For some reason I have always been adamant in my believing in Moroccan soccer, especially with the admiration and love I get from friends of different nationalities for our national team. Despite repeated defeats, my friends always tried to assure me that we know how to play soccer better than many other countries. And I admit Mustapha Hadji and Aziz Bouderbala usually get most admiration, love and recognition for their undeniable soccer skills.
Speaking of Bouderbala, just recently when the Egyptian movie star Ahmad Al-Saqqa visited Marrakesh as a honor guest for its cinema festival, Al-Saqqa made his special request to meet one of Morocco all-time soccer legends as s soon as he arrived to the southern city of Morocco. In fact, what Al-Saqqa really wanted to do was revisiting a period of Morocco’s soccer where the lions were much feared wherever they went to play.
The Egyptian star knows that Bouderbala represents both the true image of Moroccan soccer and pride. Bouderbala along with Timoumi, Hadji and others erected a towering edifice of soccer mastery along with pride, perseverance and professionalism through their careers as soccer players. Their tremendous efforts in giving a good image of Moroccan soccer are appreciated home and abroad.
There was time where we had almost nothing but a series of civilizations dated centuries ago to brag about. Around this very time there were only few people who could locate Morocco on the map, those who most likely have watched the famous American movie Casablanca. In my opinion, it was thanks to three things that made people around the world curious to know more about this lovely place: Moroccan soccer in the 80’s and 90’s, Said Aouita and the Moroccan delicious Clementine with Maroc sticker on it.
At the time, these three exported commodities were enough to “carry” with you to be admirable when you go overseas. But our glory was short-lived. Our golden era was discontinued by repeated defeats over the twelve years. Our soccer downfall, I believe, started when the goalkeeper Khalil Azmi failed to save a random kick from the Saudi player Mohammed Anwar in the 1994 World Cup.
That was the past. Mas’s victory now is to signal some points that we all need to keep in mind. The first point is the innate invincibility that has been a characteristic of the Atlas lions since ever. The more ailing they look, the more determined are to come back out of it stronger and more challenging than before. The second point is our regained confidence in our soccer to do better. Over the years, we seemed to have been skeptical of our ability to come back stronger.
The last yet most important point is the fact that Morocco is a mine of talents of all sorts. Mas’s deserved win tells us that it is time to unearth the gemstones that are scattered in every inch of Morocco. What we really need are astute and seasoned experts who appreciate our gemstones and know how to carefully polish them until they shine.
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