Morocco coach Walid Regragui has hailed the battling spirit of his gamers after they defeated Portugal 1-0 to change into the primary African nationwide group ever to achieve the World Cup semi-final stage.
Youssef En-Nesyri’s header late within the first half on Saturday at Al Thumama Stadium despatched the Atlas Lions via to a last-four showdown with reigning champions France or England.
“We got here up in opposition to a extremely nice Portugal group. We’re drawing on all we’ve got, we nonetheless have guys injured. I informed the fellows earlier than the match we needed to write historical past for Africa. I’m very, very pleased,” Regragui informed France’s TF1.
Regragui, a France-born former Morocco worldwide, had already made historical past of his personal as the primary African coach to take a group into the World Cup quarter-finals.
Walid Regragui has constructed a machine. Lower than three months with this group and he has remodeled them into a really deadly group.
The spirit that they’ve showcased to this point is one which many an African group can study a factor or two from. pic.twitter.com/jR6y4opZv1
— Usher Komugisha (@UsherKomugisha) December 10, 2022
“Africa is again on the map of soccer right this moment,” he stated. “We had the mentality. We knew we may make historical past for Africa.
“We had the appropriate angle for our folks, for us, for Africa. It’s at all times tough for us African coaches. You don’t assume we are able to deal with such groups tactically.”
Morocco have now defeated three of Europe’s strongest groups in Qatar – beating Belgium within the group stage and Spain on penalties within the final 16 – after drawing 0-0 with 2018 runners-up Croatia of their opening match.
“While you watch Rocky, you wish to assist Rocky Balboa due to his laborious work and dedication and I feel we’re the Rocky Balboa of this World Cup,” Regragui informed reporters, referencing the lead character in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky collection.
“We’re turning into the group that everybody loves at this World Cup, as a result of we’re displaying that even when you don’t have as a lot expertise, when you present that need, coronary heart and perception, you’ll be able to obtain.”
Morocco will tackle both holders France or England on Wednesday at Al Bayt Stadium with the prospect to change into the primary nation from exterior Europe or South America to achieve the ultimate.
“We will dream, why shouldn’t we dream about successful the World Cup?” added Regragui, who solely took over as coach in August. “It doesn’t value you something to have goals. European nations have been used to successful the World Cup.”
Winger Sofiane Boufal additionally hopes there may be extra to come back.
“It’s loopy. We’re dwelling and dreaming, and we don’t wish to get up. I’ve goosebumps,” he stated.
“Every thing we’ve got, we deserve. We work laborious. It’s not over. There’s nonetheless the semifinal and, God prepared, the ultimate.”
Off the sector, this Morocco squad is uniting the Arab world, inspiring shows of Arab id from followers in several nations.
“We’re taking it one match at a time. We wish to win each sport,” Morocco’s Abdelhamid Sabiri stated, who later posted a photograph of himself on Instagram with a Palestine flag wrapped round him.
Moroccan Nationwide group participant Abdelhamid Sabiri posted an image on Instagram, sporting the Palestinian flag 🇵🇸 after the group’s victory over Portugal on the FIFAWorldCup with a caption “Freedom.” pic.twitter.com/IkD5tgjPZO
— PALESTINE ONLINE 🇵🇸 (@OnlinePalEng) December 10, 2022
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. Nobody thought we may do it. I stated final week that we wished to finish the curse.”
It’s a seminal second in World Cup historical past, with an African nation lastly advancing to the degrees usually solely reached by European or South American groups. Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) all reached the quarterfinals however bought no additional.