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World Cup 2022: Which records did Morocco & Africa smash?

5:02 PM GMT 22/12/2022
Partey, Ziyech, Hakimi, Aboubakar
GOAL run down some of the biggest records broken by the continent’s five sides in Qatar.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo Morocco Portugal World Cup 2022

    Africa’s first semi-finalists

    Morocco’s run to the Final Four was unprecedented for the continent’s sides in World Cup history.

    Before Qatar, the furthest any African side had reached was the quarter-final, with Cameroon 1990, Senegal 2002 and Ghana 2010 each reaching the Last Eight.

    The Atlas Lions, however, broke new ground for African teams by defeating Portugal in the quarter-final to set up a semi meeting with France.

  • Boufal and his mom dancing

    North Africa’s first quarter-finals

    Morocco’s run in the competition was feted as a magnificent success story for African football, but perhaps more pertinently, it was a triumph for the North African region and the Arab world.

    Never before this year had a side from the continent’s North reached the quarters, while it was also new ground for a Muslim country at the grandest sporting festival of all.

  • Mohammed Salisu Ghana South Korea 2022 World Cup

    All of Africa’s teams won a match

    Never before—since Africa had at least one entrant at the World Cup—has every single one of the continent’s participants at the tournament secured a victory in the tournament.

    Yet in 2022, new ground was broken, with each of the five African representatives picking up at least one victory in the tournament.

    Tunisia and Cameroon took massive scalps by dispatching France and Brazil, while Ghana also saw off South Korea to give themselves a fighting chance of progression.

  • Koulibaly Senegal Qatar 2022

    Two teams winning more than one match

    Both Morocco and Senegal won more than one match at the World Cup, representing the first time ever that multiple African teams have won at least one fixture at the tournament.

    In the past, the likes of Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon have all won two or more matches in a single edition, but never before had more than one side picked up multiple victories.

    Wins for Senegal over Qatar and Ecuador took them into the knockouts, while Morocco secured four wins en route to the semis.

  • Aboubakar Brazil Cameroon World Cup 2022

    The most African wins ever

    Africa smashed its own best ever record for victories in a single edition of the tournament, with the continent’s teams combining to secure nine triumphs in Qatar.

    Morocco were responsible for four of these, but as mentioned above, the other African representatives played their part to take Africa’s World Cup performance to unprecedented heights.

    For context, heading into this edition, Africa had never before won more than four times in a single edition of the tournament, and never more than three in the group stage.

    This time, African teams were responsible for seven group stage wins, and nine overall.

  • Nigeria 98

    Africa’s first group winners to reach the quarters

    In topping their group ahead of Canada, Belgium and Croatia, Morocco became only the fourth ever African World Cup team to finish first in the opening round.

    However, on each of the previous occasions—Morocco in 1986, Nigeria in 1994, Nigeria in 1998—the group winner would fall in the Last 16.

    Indeed, each of Africa’s three previous quarter-finalists—Senegal, Ghana and Cameroon—reached the Last Eight despite finishing second in their group.

    Morocco bucked the trend in Qatar, becoming the first African group winners to build on their opening round success and advance past the Last 16.

  • Romain Saiss Morocco

    Morocco’s awesome defence

    Heading into their semi-final against France, the only player to have scored against Morocco was the Atlas Lions’ own centre-back, Nayef Aguerd, who put past his own keeper in the 2-1 victory over Canada.

    Until then—across five matches—no opponent player managed to breach the Lions’ defence.

    It’s a remarkable achievement and, for context, since 1990 only two teams—France in 1998 and Italy in 2006—reached the quarters, let alone the semis, without allowing an opposition player to score against them.

    Both of those sides went on to win the cup.

  • Noussair Mazraoui.

    Remarkable individual efforts

    Underpinning their awesome defensive run to the semis were some supreme individual performances, with Morocco’s defenders clearly thriving in Walid Regragui’s system.

    Heading into their semi against France, no team in the entire tournament had made more clearances or more tackles than the Atlas Lions.

    Indeed, only Ecuador conceded a lower percentage of shots against them being on target, and a case could be made that Morocco’s defensive unit was the most effective in the whole tournament.

  • Bounou Morocco Spain

    No African defence has ever done better in a World Cup

    Morocco’s backline achieved four clean sheets during the World Cup, with Bono and his boys neutralising Belgium, Croatia, Spain and Portugal.

    Unsurprisingly then, this is comfortably an African record, with none of the continent’s sides ever registering more shut-outs during a single edition of the competition than the Lions in Qatar.

  • Aboukhalal Morocco Belgium

    Most ever group stage points

    Previous classic African teams such as Nigeria and Cameroon have progressed from the group stage after taking six points—with two wins and a defeat—but never before has an African team prosecuted the opening round as successfully as Morocco.

    Despite being drawn into an ominous looking pool, the Atlas Lions took seven points from the opening round—defeating Belgium and Canada while drawing with Croatia—never before has an African side taken more.

  •  Achraf Hakimi - Romain Ghanem Saiss and his son -2022 World Cup 2022 - Morocco - Portugal

    First penalty shootout victory

    Morocco’s penalty victory over Spain—secured with Achraf Hakimi’s impudent effort—was the first ever victory for an African side in a World Cup shootout.

    Admittedly, the continent’s teams haven’t taken part in many, with Ghana’s defeat by Uruguay in 2010 the only ever shootout involving an African team before 2022.

    It was a historic victory for Morocco, and gave Africa revised 50-percent success rate in World Cup shootouts!

  • 20221218 Cristiano Ronaldo

    Most European teams eliminated

    Not even considering Belgium, Denmark and Serbia, all of whom were helped—partly at least—to First Round eliminations by failing to beat African opponents, 2022 represented a record tournament for African success against European sides.

    Across the entire history of the World Cup before 2022, there had only ever been one African victory over a European side in knockout history—Senegal against Sweden in 2002.

    Morocco single-handedly doubled that tally this year, with both Spain’s Roja and Portugal’s Selecao being dumped out of the cup by their near neighbours.

  • 20221214 Walid Regragui

    Longest undefeated streak

    Including Morocco’s 2-2 draw with Spain in their last group game of the 2018 World Cup, the Atlas Lions would go on an unprecedented undefeated streak that culminated with the quarter-final triumph over Portugal.

    From the Spain draw to the semi defeat by France, Morocco didn’t lose a match in six World Cup games, a feat which has never before been achieved by an African side at the tournament.