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Morocco boss Regragui says European clubs think Arabs and Africans are “ignorant in football”.

The Moroccan miracle maker has worked wonders at the World Cup but says that it is difficult for big European clubs to take notice.

Walid Regragui (Morocco)

Every time the Moroccan national team step onto the pitch, another line in the history books gets typed out for children to read when they get older. Morocco’s qualification to the Qatar World Cup 2022 was never in doubt, games against Guinea, Guinea-Bassau and Sudan went by without a breeze, 18 points from 18 quickly collected together in the table.

Then came the tournament, and 7 points saw them top the group with two wins and a draw, including a fantastic 0-2 victory against Belgium, a team many thought to be a dark horse in the competition.

Spain, winners of the World Cup in 2010, a victory that sat between two consecutive European Championships, playing with a style that arguably changed the way Europe sees football today, came next.

Eden Hazard (Belgium) and Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco) during the World Cup Group F game in Qatar.
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Eden Hazard (Belgium) and Sofyan Amrabat (Morocco) during the World Cup Group F game in Qatar.GLYN KIRKAFP

And Morocco, once again, took another step forward, typing another page in the book of their achievements on the pitch on a stage where everyone saw them for what they are. They beat Spain, nullifying them perfectly, making it appear as though the Europeans were forced to play in denim jeans for 120 minutes. Yes, it took penalties for them to do it, but beat them they did and for the first time Morocco gave themselves the chance to play for a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

“There are moments in history that make people that change their mind, and it’s upon us, the Arab and African cultures, to show that we are ready”, said the Morocco coach, Walid Regragui, as he spoke to the press in the lead up to the quarter final against Portugal. He believes that so many first times for Morocco and African football in general is a reflection of the lack of opportunities the continent gets to show itself in Europe.

“I think it’s impossible that Manchester City or Barcelona will bring an African or Arab coach, they don’t even think about it, as if we’re not worthy, as if we are ignorant in football, or we’re incapable of such a task”, he added.

All African nations participating in the World Cup - Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Tunisia and Morocco - have African coaches: another first. “When you have five African coaches, you have more chances that if the results are there, these coaches will be seen.” Shortage of talent and and skill, there is not.

On the same day that Morocco stepped out onto the pitch for their quarter-final against Portugal, Kolo Touré became the first African international player to manage in England’s top four divisions, as Wigan Athletic got a point against Millwall.

And then, on 10 December 2022, Morocco took another step, beating Portugal 1-0 to become the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals. “Experience doesn’t matter. It’s skills. It doesn’t matter your background, religion, culture, where you’re from. Skills are the only measure.”

“Today, Africa is front and centre. With a lot of heart, we did it.”


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