Image Credit: FIFA World Cup/Twitter

Doha: Moroccan fans exploded in joy on Saturday as their team became the first from any African country to reach a World Cup semi-final, filling the stadium with a deafening roar and unleashing cheering, crying, dancing and singing on the streets back home.

Youssef En-Nesyri leapt high in the air to head home the game's only goal just before half-time at the Al-Thumama Stadium to strike a significant blow against football's established order and book a semi-final on Wednesday against either England or France, who meet later on Saturday.

The result will be widely celebrated across Africa and the Arabic-speaking Middle East, desperate to see one of their teams in contention for the biggest prize in football.

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Chairman of Dubai Judicial Council, took to Twitter to congratulate the Morocco team after their victory over Portugal in FIFA World Cup quarterfinal match.

"Congratulation to the Moroccan leadership and people on this historic achievement. It was a great performance, an unprecedented victory for Arab football, and a well-deserved qualification to the semifinals. They made us all happy," tweeted Sheikh Maktoum.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, also congratulated Morocco team on their victory.

Twitter's new boss, Elon Musk took Twitter to react to the Morocco's historic win. Tesla CEO wrote, "Congrats Morocco!!".

African Union President Macky Sall wrote on Twitter, using capital letters to emphasise his excitement: "HISTORIC! AND FANTASTIC! THE ATLAS LIONS ARE QUALIFIED FOR THE SEMI-FINALS OF THE WORLD CUP! BRAVO MOROCCO."

In an Abidjan cafe where people were watching the game and celebrate the win, customer Jules Goule said Ivorians were proud of Morocco's win. "Through Morocco Africa has just shown that it can compete with other continents in football," he said.

Colombian superstar Shakira took to Twitter to congratulate the African side for their achievement.

President of Federal Republic of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo has congratulated the Moroccon team for the historic win.

" You have truly made us proud Morocco. This victory is more than just qualifying beyond the Quaters. This is a testimony that Africa is rising & we are a force to be reckoned with. Felicitations for the history-making passage to the FIFA World Cup Semi-finals. Congratulations,' Farmaajo wrote on Twitter

Morocco coach Walid Regragui lauded the battling spirit of his injury-hit side after they beat Portugal.

"We came up against a really great Portugal team. We're drawing on all we have, we still have guys injured. I told the guys before the match we had to write history for Africa. I'm very, very happy," Regragui told France's TF1.

SPO_221209 MOROCCO HONEY1-1670600380414
Morocco's head coach Walid Regragui is thrown in the air at the end of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Morocco and Spain, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr) Image Credit: AP

As Moroccan player Jawad El Yamiq circled the pitch with a flag draped around his shoulders, one fan stood motionless, looking out over the pitch with his hands over his mouth as if unable to take in the scale of the win.

But in Rabat, joyful fans thronged the streets, people poured towards the downtown square where Morocco's victories are celebrated.

"The last few minutes felt like hours," said one fan, Samir Saqri, as he joined a crowd pouring out from the cafe where they had watched the game to head downtown.

"Morocco is showing that African teams can compete at a high level," he added.