AL KHOR, Qatar (AP) – The Latest from the World Cup semifinal match between France and Morocco:
Morocco’s history-making run at the World Cup is about to get its ultimate test.
Africa’s first World Cup semifinalist will play defending champion France and striker Kylian Mbappé, the leader of a new wave of soccer superstars coming out of an era dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The match has cultural and political connotations because Morocco was under French rule from 1912-56 and the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion.
Morocco has exceeded all expectations in Qatar by beating second-ranked Belgium in the group stage and then eliminating European powerhouses Spain and Portugal in the knockout phase to reach the semifinals.
No African or Arab nation has ever gotten this far before.
Morocco’s players are sharing the World Cup spotlight with some of their most ardent fans: their mothers.
Many of the players have brought their mothers and other family members to Qatar and celebrated with them in the stadiums after the team’s impressive string of victories.
Midfielder Sofiane Boufal was dancing with his mother on the field after Morocco beat Portugal 1-0 on Saturday to become the first African and Arab nation to reach the World Cup semifinals. They held hands and danced in circles to the delight of the crowd.
Defender Achraf Hakimi posted images on social media of his mother giving him a kiss on the cheek after he scored the winning penalty against Spain in the round of 16 last week. “I love you mom,” he wrote.
Morocco’s national carrier says seven flights that were meant to take soccer fans to Qatar for the World Cup semifinal match against France have been canceled because of restrictions by local authorities.
Royal Air Maroc earlier this week announced it would organize 30 flights between Casablanca and Doha on Tuesday and Wednesday for fans to attend the game. But the airline says seven of those flights operated by Qatar Airways were canceled.
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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