Gallagher Premiership Highlights - Round 21Mar 27
Morocco's history-makers: Walid Regragui's men out to pull of yet another shock against the defending world champions
The Moroccan football team have become the first African nation to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup having knocked out Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal.
They've been the surprise packages of the World Cup, securing shock result after shock result, and now Morocco have the chance to break new ground again and make the final at Qatar 2022.
Walid Regragui's men raised eyebrows when they advanced top from a group featuring Croatia and Belgium but were largely written off after drawing Spain the round of 16.
Yet Morocco pulled off a heroic display as they took Spain to penalties after a goalless 120 minutes and eventually prevailed on spot-kicks thanks to the brilliance of La Liga-based goalkeeper Bono.
Portugal, who'd defeated Switzerland 6-1 in the round of 16, were up next in the semi-finals but were no match for the brilliant Atlas Lions.
Morocco won the match through Youssef En-Nesyri's headed winner and easily kept out Portugal to record their fourth clean sheet in five tournament matches. The only goal Morocco have let in was a Nayef Aguerd own goal in the 2-1 win over Canada.
It meant Morocco became the first African team ever to make the World Cup semi-finals and coach Walid Regragui, who was born in France - Wednesday's opponents, is well aware of the weight of history on his team's shoulders.
"I told the guys before the match we had to write history for Africa. I’m very, very happy,” Regragui told France’s TF1. “Africa is back on the map of football today.
"We had the mentality. We knew we could make history for Africa. We had the right attitude for our people, for us, for Africa."
Now they face arguably the biggest test of them all as they prepare to face the defending World Cup champions and the might of Kylian Mbappe and France.
It's a test the Moroccans will embrace but if they are to pull off yet another shock result, they'll have to do it while contesting with a number of issues with key players.
Romain Saiss, despite claiming he'll do everything in his power to feature, will surely not be available for selection after exiting the Portugal game with a hamstring problem. His central defensive partner Aguerd of West Ham is also a doubt to feature.
Bayern Munich's Noussair Mazraoui is expected to return and Hakim Ziyech should feature despite being forced off with an injury in the quarter-final victory. Walid Cheddira is unavailable having been dismissed towards the end of the Portugal win but was never expected to start.
Ziyech's story is a perfect encapsulation of the remarkable journey Morocco have embarked upon since Regragui's appointment in September.
The Chelsea winger announced his retirement from international football after falling out with then-coach Vahid Halilhodzic but following the coach's sacking was recalled back into the squad under his successor Regragui in September.
Ziyech, linking up with the outstanding Achraf Hakimi on Morocco's right-hand side, has been a key player as expected in Qatar and is showing far, far more than Chelsea fans have seen since he joined.
Hakimi of Inter Milan has been the tournament's standout right back and punctuated a great tournament with a ballsy panenka penalty past Unai Simon to win the shootout against Spain.
At the back Morocco have proven their mettle time and time again this tournament and Regragui will no doubt have drawn up an extensive game plan to help goalkeeper Bono keep out the likes of Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud - who netted the winner in France's quarter-final win over England.
Up front, Morocco will look to Sevilla's En-Nesyri to take what few chances they are likely to create while on the left wing former Southampton man Sofiane Boufal can create when he's in the mood.
The odds are once again stacked against them but it won't dampen the Moroccan spirit. They'll enter the semi-final full of belief that they can make history all over again and make it to Sunday's final.
There's been rampant celebrations following Morocco's wins over Spain and Portugal, with Boufal and Hakimi's mothers involved in wonderful scenes that saw Regragui lifted above his players' heads.
And at the Al Bayt Stadium they'll play in front of what would appear to be a home crowd with Moroccans set to outnumber the French two to one at the ground. Should they pull it off, Rabat, Casablanca and... Edgware Road will be some place for a party.