Commentators say regardless of the outcome of the 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinals clash which is set for December 14th and is between Morocco’s Atlas Lions and France’s Les Bleus, Africans should take pride in their historic accomplishments at the Qatar edition of the global tournament.
Africa’s first historic moment in Qatar was an announcement by FIFA authorities who said Rwandan referee, Salima Mukansanga would be the first African female to officiate games and would be joined by Japan’s Yamashita Yoshimi and France’s Stephanie Frappart.
Eddie Nsabimana, a Rwandan sports reporter applauded the direction taken by FIFA to empower women and expressed confidence in Mukansanga’s abilities to rise to the occasion.
“Mukansanga is not at the World Cup by chance neither is she there because she is a woman,” said Nsabimana, adding, “she is there because she is exceptional at what she does.”
When asked about her selection to officiate matches at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the 34-year-old Rwandan referee echoed Nsabimana’s sentiments.
“Being here means we deserve to be here,” said Mukansanga, adding, “it’s not a change or because we are women.”
Analysts commenting on the World Cup say the performances by the five teams representing the continent was an addition to Mukansanga’s accomplishment which made this year's global tournament more memorable to Africans.
Qatar’s World Cup witnessed Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles upsetting the reigning champions France 1-0, Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions beating Brazil’s Samba Boys 1-0, Senegal advancing to the Round of 16 but crashing out after a 3-0 loss to England, and Morocco’s historic win over Portugal which secured them a position in the semi-finals.
Speaking to media after their historic victory over the reigning champions, Jalel Kadri, Tunisia’s head coach said, “unfortunately we exited the tournament, but we also left the game with a lot of honor and pride.”
More Moyo, a former Zimbabwean footballer echoed Kadri’s sentiments about the Carthage Eagles but also spoke on the Atlas Lions mouthwatering performance that has helped them make history for the continent.
“Morocco has been outstanding as they are not conceding,” said Moyo.
Walid Regragui, the Atlas Lions coach, Monday expressed confidence in his side’s ability to make it to the finals of the global tournament, despite having to beat the reigning champions to make that a reality.
“We have made our people and our continent so happy and proud,” said Regragui.
“When you watch Rocky, you want to support Rocky Balboa and I think we are the Rocky of this World Cup,” he added.
This report contains information from Reuters and contributions by VOA's James Butty and Blessing Zulu.