World Cup 2022: Morocco Coach Sends Message to African Nations After Group Stage Heroics

World Cup 2022: Morocco Coach Sends Message to African Nations After Group Stage Heroics

  • Morocco secured a ticket to the World Cup knockout stages as group winners
  • This ended a 36-year heartbreak for the Atlas Lions at the global tournament
  • Walid Regragui believes African nations can set their sights on the trophy itself

Morocco coach Walid Regragui says there is a need for African countries to change their mentality when it comes to the World Cup.

The Atlas Lions have been the most impressive African nation so far in the tournament, after topping a group which consisted of heavy hitters like Belgium and Croatia.

Morocco went through Group F unbeaten, after a goalless draw with Croatia in their opening game coupled with wins over Belgium and Canada.

Morocco, World Cup, Qatar
Morocco fans celebrate in Souq Waqif after getting through to the Round of 16 during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at on December 1. Photo by Christopher Lee.
Source: Getty Images

Regragui was on post-match media duty alongside Achraf Hakimi, who was man of the match in the 2-1 win over Canada.

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There was a warm moment during the presser as the pair were applauded by journalists from their country. But the highlight of the press conference was when a Libyan journalist asked the daunting question: whether Morocco believed they can go all the way in Qatar.

Regragui was not diplomatic with his response, as he urged African nations to aim higher at the World Cup.

"We set ourselves an objective to give everything we have and get out of the group stages," he said as quoted by BBC.

Regragui asked why teams from the continent do not aim higher, believing that a change in mindset would make them more difficult to best.

"Why not dream about winning that trophy? As African teams, we need to set this objective."

Morocco, having topped their group, will now come up against Spain in the last 16.

Luis Enrique’s side somehow finished runners-up in Group E, which was the subject of pure drama in the final round of group matches.

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Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2, but Spain’s shock defeat to Japan meant La Roja had to settle for second place.

Which African sides can advance?

As it stands, Morocco are joined by Senegal in the round of 16, after Aliou Cisse’s side beat Ecuador to secure a second-place finish in Group A.

Tunisia are out despite an emphatic win over France in their final group game, while Cameroon have one foot out of the World Cup after a defeat and a draw in their opening two games.

The Indomitable Lions will have to beat favorites Brazil, but Ghana stand a solid chance of progressing, as long as they avoid defeat against Uruguay in their final group game.

Morocco joins Nigeria with record

Sports Brief also reported on the Atlas Lions' incredible feat. The last time Morocco topped their group in the World Cup was in the year 1986.

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria are the other African side who have topped their group, having done so two times at the World Cup.

Nigeria topped their group at the 1994 World Cup in the United States of America and at the 1998 edition in France.