A couple of Dutch Moroccans sleep on beach beds by the swimming pool of the Intercontinental Hotel in Doha. Some talk a little to each other. “We only arrived at our hotel this morning. We only slept an hour. Everyone is exhausted,” says Abdel from Blaricum. “But today we continue on adrenaline. You only experience something like this once. We are cheering and shouting for victory for Morocco this afternoon.”
Looks orange at Schiphol
The idea of going to Qatar at the last minute arose spontaneously when a large group of Moroccans watched the matches in Morocco together in a hotel in Badhoevedorp. Corendon boss Atilay Uslu shouted: “If Morocco wins against Spain in the round of 16, I will charter a plane to Qatar and we will go to the quarter-finals.” Morocco won and Uslu kept his word. He arranged for a plane, tickets for the match and 190 Moroccans could come along at cost price.
They left last night and saw Holland play Argentina at Schiphol. In the Heineken Café, there was enormous joy when the Netherlands equalized in the last second of the game. “You should have seen it, the whole Netherlands should have seen it,” says Soufian, who also flew to Qatar. “Everyone was happy. We flew around each other’s necks and hugged each other. We almost forgot that we had the Moroccan flag on our shoulders.”
They watched the punishments on their mobile phones in the plane. Before going to Qatar, they were just told that the Netherlands was flying out. Abdel: “We were disappointed. You have to look at it this way: Holland is our father and Morocco is our mother. We cheer for Holland just as much. Most of them were born and raised there.”
Focus on Morocco
Today new chances at the World Cup with Morocco. Abdel can hardly describe how proud he is of his motherland’s achievements. “In a word, it’s amazing. Something happens that you didn’t expect at all. How is that possible? I would have thought you were crazy if you said Morocco would make it to the quarter-finals. I wouldn’t have given a ginger, I’ll be happy for a goal in the group stage.”
Abdel felt tension in his stomach hours after the last match against Spain. “I can handle stress well, but this was…, this was so exciting.” He grabbed the opportunity to go to Qatar with both hands. “It is once in a lifetime. We experience history. It is fantastic.”
Party on the plane
It was already a big party last night on the plane to Qatar. “I’ve never experienced anything like this on a plane. We Moroccans, it’s in our blood with all the embellishments. Najib Amhali was the pace setter, he roared and we sang songs.” Many well-known Moroccans are there, such as a couple of former footballers, the actors from Mocro Maffia and presenter Khalid.
Abdel shows a video of the atmosphere in the plane. “The pilots said they had never seen such respectful people as on this plane.”
Abdel will probably be ready for the match, he says. “Put on something red,” shouts Soufian from the edge of the pool. “We’re only here with nice people,” he says. “Write it down and no negative stuff, eh. Otherwise you’ll be fighting 190 Moroccans,” he jokes. “In the media, it’s too often about the young people who make a mess of it. Look at us, we’re just having a lot of fun. We’re the vast majority.”
Kees becomes Mohammed for a while
They will leave this afternoon in buses for al Thumama Stadium in Doha. They are all in the box. “It’s going to be a madhouse. Today I feel completely Moroccan,” says Soufian. He hopes that, after the elimination of Orange, the Dutch will now also support Morocco: “Kees will be Mohammed for a while, just as Mohammed was Kees for a while last night.”
They themselves are not so sure that it will be good today. “But whether they win or not, it can’t go wrong now,” says Soufian. “We won anyway.”
And could they still reach the semi-finals? – The home front won’t be too happy about it, but then we really won’t leave here, he guarantees.