Walid Regragui, the coach of Morocco, said his team’s 2-0 semifinal defeat against France at the World Cup doesn’t diminish everything they accomplished to get there and demonstrated they are still competitive on a global scale.
The African team faced an injury crisis before of Wednesday’s pivotal encounter, but Regragui said there was no place for justifications. The African team won their group and then defeated Spain and Portugal in the knockout rounds to set up the semifinal match against the defending champions.
“We gave the maximum, that’s the most important. We had some injuries, we lost [Nayef] Aguerd in the warm-up, [Romain] Saiss, [Noussair] Mazraoui [during the game], but there are no excuses. We paid for the slightest mistake. We didn’t get into the game well, we had too much technical waste in the first half, and the second goal kills us, but that doesn’t take away everything we did before,” stated Regragui as quoted by ESPN.
Talking about how the team has garnered attention for their brilliant run in the World Cup, he said that the whole world is proud of the side for their honest, hard-working football.
“We realise that we made a great achievement already. We know that the media, social media, and on TV, we saw the pictures, and we saw that everyone was proud of us in our country. I think the world as a whole is proud of this Moroccan team because we show great desire. We work hard, and we played honest, hard-working football,” expressed the Moroccan coach.
Theo Hernandez gave France an early lead after only five minutes, but Regragui’s restructured squad fought back valiantly to put the hosts under heat until substitute Randal Kolo Muani’s goal in the 79th minute put an end to the match.
Regragui claimed that in order to deal with the speed of France’s wingers, he altered his defensive strategy but Kylian Mbappe made a stunning late run to set up the winning goal.
“At a World Cup, this was perhaps one step too far. Not in terms of quality or tactics, but physically we came up short tonight. We have too many players who were at 60 percent and they have been for a few games now. Today we had a lot of possession and they punished us when we had the ball. Congratulations to France, we are going to support them now,” added the Morocco coach.
France will attempt to win it’s second consecutive World Cup on Sunday when they play Argentina in the championship game. Morocco will now play Croatia in the third-place playoff on Saturday.
“It will be difficult on the mental level. I will give opportunities to those who did not participate, and we will try to clinch third place. The important thing is that we presented a good look to our team and that soccer in Morocco is not far from the top levels,” mentioned Regragui. (ANI)