Qatar blocks planeloads of Moroccan fans from historic clash with France

Planeloads of Moroccan fans were blocked from flying to Qatar as their national team hoped to continue its fairytale run in a historic World Cup semi-final against France.

The anticipated clash between giant-killers Morocco and superpowers France began at 6am Thursday (AEDT), with France quickly scoring their first goal in the fifth minute to lead 1-0.

The highly experienced French scored a second goal at 79 minutes, sealing Morocco’s fate.

Earlier, devastated fans of the Atlas Lions were told seven extra flights put on especially for their nation’s first ever semi-final were blocked by Qatari officials.

Morocco’s national airliner Royal Air Maroc had planned the additional services after Morocco’s football association promised 13,000 free tickets to the game.

It was not known why the airline was stopped.

“Following the latest restrictions imposed by the Qatari authorities Royal Air Maroc regrets to inform customers of the cancellation of their flights operated by Qatar Airways,” Royal Air Maroc said in a statement to the Reuters news agency.

Morocco was the first African side to reach the last-four at a World Cup.

The match against former colonial power France was heavy with political and social overtones and as it took on an added edge.

Morocco’s exploits so far in Qatar have provided an outlet for marginalised migrant communities in France, who have been out on the streets celebrating the team’s wins.

After finishing top of a group that also included Croatia, Belgium and Canada, Morocco then knocked off the fancied Spain and Portugal to reach the semis.

Having broken new ground for Africa and themselves Morocco are already guaranteed a hero’s welcome when they return home, regardless of the outcome.

France, in contrast, were facing something of a disaster if they failed to deliver an expected victory.

But after a resounding triumph they will now face Argentina in the final, seeking to become the first country to successfully defend the World Cup since Brazil 60 years ago (1958/1962).

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