Morocco will play this Saturday (4:00 p.m.) the first quarter-final of the World Cup in its history. A feat that only three African countries had achieved so far.
Walid Regragui and his players “represent Morocco and Africa”, in the words of the coach. And we can understand that. Qualification for the quarter-finals at the expense of Spain (0-0, 3-0 pens) is a real feat for a continent that has been waiting for this event since the 2010 World Cup and the Ghanaian epic. Before them, Senegal in 2002 and Cameroon in 1990 had succeeded. A look back at the journey of three teams that have gone down in history.
Cameroon in 1990: the real Indomitable Lions and the legend Roger Milla
In 1990, in Italy, Cameroon took part in only its second World Cup. In an affordable group, the Cameroonians create the feat in the opening match and beat the Argentina of Diego Maradona, reigning world champion, 1 to 0 thanks to a header from striker Omam-Biyik. A goal that follows him forever now: “Some friends no longer call me François but the man of June 8 (day of success)». After another victory over Romania (2-1) and despite a heavy defeat against the Soviet Union (4-0), the Indomitable Lions qualified for the round of 16.
This Cup was also the last of the legend Roger Milla. And what an exit! Back in selection just before the World Cup, at 38, he scored twice against Romania in the pools, and did it again in the round of 16 against Colombia. Two goals in three minutes in extra time (106th and 109th) qualifying Cameroon for a historic quarter-final.
Unfortunately, it was in the quarter-finals, against England (3-2 aet) that the beautiful story came to an end after a match consecrated as the most beautiful of the tournament.
Senegal in 2002: a “golden goal” engraved in the memories
For the first World Cup organized in Asia, Senegal goes to South Korea and Japan in a complicated group. From the opening match, general surprise: 1-0 victory against Zidane’s France, world champion in 1998. Undefeated in the group stage after 2 draws against Uruguay (3-3) and Denmark (1- 1), Senegal finished 2nd and qualified for the round of 16.
At this stage of the competition, he finds Sweden, an opponent within his reach. Once again pushed to extra time, the Teranga Lions will take advantage of the “golden goal” rule, introduced in 1996 and abolished since 2003. In this historic match, the hero among heroes is called Henri Camara, author of the two Senegalese goals and therefore the golden goal (2-1 victory after extra time).
Despite a big fight, this team with a very French accent (21 of the 23 players played in France) will, in turn, be eliminated by a “golden goal” in the quarter-finals against Turkey (1-0 ap)
Ghana in 2010: the “crime” of Luis Suarez
On the lands of South Africa, a team had to do honor to the African continent. Ghana took care of that. Narrowly qualified in the round of 16 thanks to goal difference, the Blacks Stars face the United States. African countries have become accustomed to playing extra time in the World Cup and Ghana is no exception to this tradition. After Kevin-Prince Boateng’s opener and the American equaliser, it was Asamoah Gyan, Ghana’s top scorer who sent his country to the quarter-finals with a lob on the goalkeeper.
In the quarter-finals comes Uruguay. A match which, with a gesture, entered the great history of the World Cup. As the two teams head for another extension, Luis Suarez, yet Uruguayan striker, stops, with his hands, a shot that would have given victory to Ghana. Suarez is expelled and Ghana is offered a semi-final ball, on penalty. Asamoah Gyan, however irreproachable until then, sends his penalty on the crossbar and puts an end to all the hopes of a country and a continent then eliminated on penalties. Since then, thehe gesture of Luis Suarez is seen as a crime in Ghana.