Walid Regragui says Morocco have proved they can go ‘toe-to-toe’ with the best after fourth-place finish at the World Cup… as he insists his team’s success ‘should inspire other African countries’
Walid Regragui said Morocco had proved they can go ‘toe-to-toe’ with the world’s top sides and said they will come back stronger with the aim of winning the World Cup one day.
The Moroccan coach was full of praise for his players, whom he said ‘gave everything’ but just came up short against Croatia to finish fourth.
But he added: ‘Before the tournament we were given 0.01 per cent chance of doing this, and we got to the last four. We are now one of the top four teams in the world, and if you had told me that before the tournament I would have taken it. I would not have changed anything.’
Walid Regragui said Morocco had proved they can go ‘toe-to-toe’ with the world’s best
Morocco beat Belgium, Spain and Portugal en route to the semi-finals where they lost to France and he added: ‘Croatia are now one of the top 3 sides in the world, and they were slightly stronger than us, as were France, which is no disgrace. We’ve had to catch up and have spent the last 10 years trying to do that.
‘These games are decided on small details and my players gave everything. I am proud of them. We’ve gone further than anyone expected.
‘We also learned a lot from playing Belgium, Spain and Portugal. We have shown we can go toe-to-toe with some of these top teams.
Morocco beat Belgium, Spain and Portugal en route to the semi-finals where they lost to Franc
‘This should inspire other African countries. It is in the DNA of European teams to reach the last stages, and we have to develop that in our DNA too. Then one day we can win the World Cup.’
And he said how much it meant to see Moroccan fans and their King celebrating their record-breaking run to the last four, going further than any other African side.
‘Something really touches me when I see pictures of our fans, the children, the King celebrating in the street. Football allows you to dream, and we have allowed our children to keep these dreams alive and that is priceless. It means more to me than winning a World Cup.
Regragui says other African team’s can take Morocco’s success in Qatar as inspiration
‘We have to give our children the footballing DNA that European teams have, and if we do that, one day we’ll win the World Cup.’
Asked if this is the best generation of African players, he said: ‘It is hard when Africa has only five teams in the World Cup, but next time we will have nine. I said to my players in the dressing room ‘if you want to go down in history, you have to win the African Cup of Nations’. If you want to be kings of the world, you have to first become kings of your continent.’
And he signed off to applause when he said: ‘Thank you all, we have had a great time here – long live Africa.’