Although round 1 / 4 of the world’s inhabitants follows Islam, the group hasn’t exerted that presence on the World Cup stage.
Perennial underdogs, Muslim international locations arrive at soccer’s greatest occasion with out an excessive amount of expectation – however many groups through the years have defied that under-estimation to stun the globe on the largest of levels.
With Morocco the newest of Muslim nations to shock and encourage on the World Cup, knocking Spain out of this yr’s event on the round-of-16 stage, 90min takes a glance again at different Muslim international locations to have gone deep into the gorgeous recreation’s most important occasion.
The primary Muslim nation to have made an look within the knockout stage of a World Cup marketing campaign was Egypt all the best way again in 1934. Having been unable to emulate that round-of-16 show (during which they have been crushed 4-2 by Hungary) since, nevertheless, that feat is considerably skewed by the truth that the event went straight right into a knockout bracket in these days.
It subsequently took over half a century for an additional Muslim nation to function within the knockout section of a World Cup, with Morocco topping their group in 1986 forward of England, Poland and Portugal solely to lose to eventual finalists West Germany within the final 16.
The expansion of the game within the Muslim world quickly translated into the worldwide stage, with extra common appearances within the knockout section all through the Nineteen Nineties.
Saudi Arabia, regardless of not having progressed previous the group stage in 5 appearances since, made the spherical of 16 after their maiden World Cup qualification in 1994 – as did Nigeria, whose predominant faith is Islam. The Nigerians additionally reached the ultimate 16 of their second ever World Cup look in 1998, though have managed the feat simply as soon as since.
4 years later, Senegal shocked the world to beat the reigning champions France 1-0 within the event’s curtain raiser, earlier than progressing to the spherical of 16. That yr, nevertheless, the stage belonged to Turkey, whose majority additionally identifies as Muslim. Below the steerage of Senol Gunes, the Turks went all the best way to the ultimate 4 in simply their second (and newest) World Cup marketing campaign.
Since that rollercoaster of a World Cup, knockout-stage appearances have been somewhat extra sporadic for Muslim nations. Nigeria and Algeria each featured within the closing 16 in 2014, whereas Senegal as soon as once more reached that stage in 2022, solely to lose 3-0 to England.
All eyes in Qatar, nevertheless, have been on the inspiring Moroccans who, courtesy of their giant-killing towards Spain, have bettered their earlier greatest to achieve the quarter-final stage this yr – and their journey is not over but.
Morocco must trigger one other monumental upset, dealing with Portugal within the final eight, to match Turkey’s achievement in 2002.
One of many shock packages 20 years in the past, Turkey completed the event in third place. After dropping their semi-final conflict 1-0 to eventual champions Brazil (Ronaldo scoring the one purpose), the Turks managed an exhilarating 3-2 win towards hosts South Korea within the third-place play-off.
With the heavyweights nonetheless preventing in Qatar, Morocco would do extremely nicely to match the earlier greatest a Muslim nation has ever completed at a World Cup. After every part we have seen to date, nevertheless, who is aware of?