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Soccer World Cup Offers Arabs Rare Cheer as Problems Pile Up

  • Embattled leaders have joined fans in celebrating the success
  • Four Arab nations to contest top tournament for first time
Saudi Arabia supporters celebrate their team's victory as they qualified for the FIFA World Cup Russia. 

Saudi Arabia supporters celebrate their team's victory as they qualified for the FIFA World Cup Russia. 

Photographer: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images AsiaPac
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In a region more used to strife and daily struggle, the historic qualification of four Arab nations for next year’s soccer World Cup finals in Russia is providing some cheer -- for fans as well as their troubled leaders.

Morocco and Tunisia on Saturday joined Egypt and Saudi Arabia in securing spots for the sport’s top competition. That eclipsed the Arab world’s previous best showing, when three teams took part in the 1998 competition in France. The celebrations reached from the street to high political office.