Joy and Anxiety as Moroccans Look to World Cup Match With France

9:48 PM Aida Alami 0 Comments


KSAR EL KEBIR, Morocco — Ahead of the World Cup semifinal between Morocco and France on Wednesday, the flip side of Moroccans’ euphoria at having made it this far in the tournament was excruciating stress.

In Casablanca, a young woman said she kept dreaming that Morocco had lost, waking up in a clammy sweat night after night, while her friend has been devouring so much soccer content on social media each night before bed that she saw one of the players smiling triumphantly in her sleep. And in the town of Ksar el Kebir, amid the strawberry fields and low green hills of northern Morocco, people were begging God for their hometown hero, the star defender Achraf Hakimi, to give them a reason to once again lose their minds with joy.

“We hope we win, but it’s in the hands of God,” said Houda el-Asri, 36, who was taking the trash out on Tuesday afternoon in Ksar el Kebir, where Mr. Hakimi’s mother grew up before immigrating to Spain. Mr. Hakimi was born in Spain, returning regularly to Morocco to visit family.

But fatalism this was not. “I’m scared,” Ms. El-Asri confessed a second after consigning her fate to God, grinning. “Just like with the last game, I can’t stop thinking about it. Are we going to win? Are we going to lose?”


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