Canada will not advance to knockout round world CupBut Montreal’s Moroccan community still has a lot to be happy about.
Soccer fans will be packing cafes and bars across the city for Thursday’s Canada-Morocco game, especially in the neighborhood north of downtown known as “Little Maghreb,” where immigrants from MoroccoAlgeria and Tunisia have been visiting since the 1990s.
Abderrahman El Fouladi, 70, who arrived in Canada 31 years ago and is an avid soccer The fan, says he is looking forward to watching the game at home surrounded by his Canadian-Moroccan family.
“I will support both teams because I feel as Canadian as Moroccan,” El Fouladi said during a recent interview. “My four kids are 100 percent Canadian, so it’s hard for me to cheer for one team over another.
“I expect it to be a good and entertaining match, and whatever happens, Canada will be represented because the Moroccan goalkeeper, Yassin Bounou, was born in Montreal and is Canadian-Moroccan.”
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According to Statistics Canada, Montreal has a large Moroccan community, with approximately 37,360 Moroccans living in the city.
“There are more than 100,000 Moroccans in Canada, and the largest concentration is in Montreal,” said El Fouladi. “It is a community that also has the support of other Maghreb countries such as Algeria and Tunisia. These are the people who are always together to celebrate football.”
Hassan Boualal, 50, said he would watch the game with about 100 other Moroccan Canadians at a bar in downtown Montreal. At the start of the tournament, he was backing both Morocco and Canada, he said.
But after Canada’s 4-1 loss to Croatia on Sunday – ending Canada’s chances of making the knockout rounds – Boullal said he only has one team left. Meanwhile, Morocco are second in Group F and have a good chance of going through to the second round.
“It is unfortunate because I wanted both countries to reach the next round because they are both my countries,” Baulal said in a recent interview.
Boulal said that it will be a tough match as Canada has a strong team. But the Moroccan team, he said, has a lot of experience in international tournaments compared to Canada, which is playing in the World Cup for the first time since 1986. He said he thinks Morocco will come out on top.
Noureddine Heller, 37, who is Algerian and the manager of Cafe 5 Zuillet in the Little Maghreb, said she called more people to work than usual on Thursday because she expected her cafe to be packed.
“The match is at 10 in the morning, and you won’t find an empty seat in the cafe until 6 in the morning. We will be ready.
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