For the first time ever, a team from Morocco has reached the round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Atlas Lionesses, playing in their first Women’s World Cup, advanced to the quarterfinals after a night of beautiful football.
Anissa Lahmari scored the game-winning goal for the tournament rookies in the closing minute of the first half of Thursday’s Group H encounter against a threatening Colombia side.
The Atlas Lionesses showed their superior skill and resolve from the first whistle.
They were at their best when they had the ball at their feet, dominating play and generating multiple scoring chances.
Despite a fierce struggle on the pitch, there were few quality scoring opportunities in the first half.
When Ibtissam Jraidi was taken down inside the penalty area as time wound down in the first half, it was a decisive moment that had everyone on the edge of their seats. Ghizlane Chebbak took the subsequent penalty, but the Colombian custodian made a fantastic save.
Anissa Lahmari pounced on the rebound and calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net, but fate had other ideas.
The crowd exploded in joy as Morocco took a valuable lead, moving ahead of Germany in Group H.
After hearing that Germany and Korea Republic had played to a 1-1 draw in the other group match, the Moroccan players and fans rejoiced loudly.
Colombia battled hard for an equaliser in the second half to keep their chances alive.
The South American team mounted a succession of strong assaults, but Morocco’s custodian Khadija Er-Rmichi was equal to the challenge, producing a number of remarkable saves.
The suspense mounted with each passing minute, but Morocco’s stalwart defence prevented their opponents from scoring an equaliser.
Anissa Lahmari’s effort on the field was so impressive that she was named the game’s Player of the Match.
Her first-half goal was a game-winner, cementing her status as a vital cog in Morocco’s quest for greatness.
Having finished in either second or third place, Morocco will play France on Tuesday.
The Atlas Lionesses have brought honour to Africa no matter the outcome. Their incredible feat will encourage young women all around Africa to follow their passions.