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Jean-Talon Boulevard erupted in uncontrolled joy on Saturday afternoon as Moroccan supporters danced, cheered and cried over their team’s historic World Cup quarter-finals victory.

Morocco beat Portugal 1-0, making them the first ever African squad to secure a spot in the World Cup semifinal, the largest soccer tournament in the world. When the referee’s final whistle blew on Saturday, they flooded out of cafés and apartments to celebrate. 

Red and green smoke wafted through the Petit Maghreb neighbourhood, the heart of Montreal’s sizeable Moroccan and North African community. The city is home to more than 50,000 Moroccan immigrants and tens of thousands of others with ties to the country.

  • Montrealers celebrate Morocco’s historic World Cup run with flags, fireworks and pride
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“They deserved to win,” said Bouchaib Kaebori, who was born in Morocco, as the boom of fireworks sounded amid the revellers. He wore a Moroccan flag draped over his shoulders, a visible sign of the pride for his home country.

“We are really, really proud as Moroccan-Canadians. We won against some of the biggest teams in the world: Belgium, today Portugal, even Spain.” 

Above the crowd, dozens of Moroccan flags fluttered in the wind. But the green star of Morocco was joined by the crescent moon of Algeria and the Palestinian ensign. Moroccan supporters say they feel the entire Arab world is throwing its support behind the team. 

The crowd chanted and danced outside the Café Sable d’or on Jean-Talon Boulevard, just east of Saint-Michel Metro station, at the heart of the Petit Maghreb neighbourhood.

The neighbourhood held a sense of bubbling anticipation before the Saturday morning showdown with Portugal. But earlier this week, Moroccan Montrealers said they were confident of their team’s success.