Morocco’s Regragui rues little details, backs France to win title

Morocco coach Regragui wants France to win the World Cup. PHOTO/AFP 

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The huge Morocco following at Al Bayt Stadium recognized that the Atlas Lions had achieved something special despite their 2-0 loss to the two-time World Champions, giving them a standing ovation after the match on Wednesday night.

Morocco’s unlikely run to the World Cup final was halted by France on Wednesday night at Al Bayt Stadium.

The Atlas Lions had defied expectations to become the first nation from Africa to reach the semi-final of a World Cup after knocking out Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo in their quarterfinal match on December 10.

However, France proved too strong and smart on the night scoring twice either half via Theo Hernandez and substitute Kolo Muani  

The huge Morocco following at Al Bayt Stadium recognized that the Atlas Lions had achieved something special despite their 2-0 loss to the two-time World Champions, giving them a standing ovation after the match on Wednesday night.

Many fans clad in the red colour of Morocco appeared reluctant to leave the stadium, wanting to soak up as much of the history as they could of their beloved Lions claiming new territory and gaining admiration from the world football fraternity.

“This has been a showcase of the quality of our players. They are disappointed. They wanted to go further,” said Morocco coach Walid Regragui after the match.

Morocco had come into the match with the meanest defence in the tournament that had let in just one goal – an own goal, from six matches played but were breached by Les Blues in the fifth minute.

Regragua rued what may have been a different night for the brave Atlas Lions

“If I have regrets about this game is that we conceded too quickly. We made too many mistakes. They allowed us possession and we created opportunities but were not clinical in their final third. We wanted to keep the dream alive but the small details that make teams champion were there with France. Their substitutes made a difference.

“We caused them a lot of problems but this was a step too far for us. We had too many players at 60, 70 per cent fit. We had injuries.”

Morocco indeed had to shuffle their pack at the last minute. Dependable West Ham centre back Nayef Aguerd was ruled unfit to play during the pre-match warm-up while Besiktas defender and team captain Romain Saiss had to be withdrawn from the game in the early stages as the flu he was said to be suffering from proved too much for him to continue playing.

There is still a lot for Morocco to play for in their third place play-off against Croatia tomorrow.

No African country has finished third, or fourth for that matter, and the history-chasing Morocco will duly enter the history books win or lose the play-off.

“The third place play-off will be a challenge. We have many players injured. We have tired legs. We will try to win the game,” said Regragui.

What does he think of the final on Sunday between two sides that have won four World Cups combined?

“It will be a balanced game. Argentina have grown in confidence and they have Messi. France, though, can win the title again and that can be historic. France have been the top football team in the world over the last 20 years. It will be wonderful if Mbappe wins the World Cup. If France wins we can say we lost to the champions,” the achieving Paris-born 47-year-old coach said with a smile.

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