Morocco will depart Qatar with pride and happiness after being the first African or Arabic team to make it all the way to the World Cup’s last four, but their coach Walid Regragui urged them to aim further in the future.
Even though Morocco lost to Croatia 2-1 on Saturday in the third-place playoff, coach Regragui praised his youthful players for doing everything he asked of them throughout the competition and beating top-tier opposition like Belgium, Portugal, and Spain to go to the semifinals.
“We wanted to bring joy to our fans but we’re still happy, we’re among the four best teams in the world,” Regragui told reporters.
“We provided everyone with a good show, we never gave up. Congratulations to Croatia, they deserve their third place. We are a young team that is still learning.”
After playing their seventh match, Regragui claimed that his team, which had the best defensive record in Qatar before losing 2-0 to France on Wednesday, had begun to feel the physical effects of a demanding tournament.
“Sure, I am a little disappointed by this second consecutive defeat, but we did everything that we could,” Regragui said.
“Physically it was difficult, our players got tired, it was very intense. We wanted to make the fans more proud than they already were, that’s it.”
Following Russia 2018, where none of the five African teams advanced past the group stage, Morocco’s performance in Qatar offered African football a tremendous morale boost.
“I think we showed our strength, we showed that African football is prepared to face the top teams in the world with efficiency and playing at the highest level,” Regragui told a conference.
“We probably will only realise what we accomplished in Qatar after four years, in the next World Cup. The pressure will also be greater, there will b”We probably will only realise what we accomplished in Qatar after four years, in the next World Cup. The pressure will also be greater, there will be expectation around us. It’s natural.
“We made a great achievement but we want to do it again. It will not be easy but that’s the objective.”e expectation around us. It’s natural.
“We made a great achievement but we want to do it again. It will not be easy but that’s the objective.”
Regragui expressed his desire for their performance in Qatar to have a long-lasting impact on African football.
“Through experience you get stronger and I hope we learn and grow and build in our children in Africa a football DNA that lasts,” he said.
“We have now allowed children to dream, dream of being footballers and going to the World Cup. That is priceless. As for the impact in our country, we have set the bar high.
“I’m sure that in 15 years an African team will win the World Cup.”
Even though Morocco lost, their fourth-place result at the #FIFAWorldCup is the best by an African nation.
🇲🇦Morocco have given so much to this tournament;
🔘Best ever finish by an African or Arab team
🔘1st African team to make the semi-finals
🔘Beat Belgium,Spain & Portugal
— FIFA World Cup Stats (@alimo_philip) December 17, 2022
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