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World Cup

Morocco coach Regragui shifts focus to winning Afcon after World Cup heroics

6:47 AM GMT 18/12/2022
Walid Regragui - world cup 2022
Morocco coach Walid Regragui has shifted focus to winning the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations following their fourth-place finish at the World Cup.
  • Regragui is targeting Afcon glory after fourth place at World Cup
  • Morocco coach feels the Atlas Lions need to assert authority in Africa
  • The 47-year-old blamed 'tiredness' for his side’s defeat to Croatia

WHAT HAPPENED? Morocco lost 2-1 to Croatia in the third-place playoff on Saturday to end the tournament in disappointment but while he is proud of what his team have achieved, Regragui feels they need to prove that they are the best in Africa by winning the 2023 tournament, which was postponed to 2024, in the Ivory Coast.

WHAT DID HE SAY? “I told my players that we cannot be kings of the world before being kings of our continent,” Regragui said after the match. “We’re now going to work on winning the Afcon.”

“Tomorrow [Sunday] morning we will take stock, and realise we all made a fantastic achievement here. We played Croatia twice, one of the top three teams in the world. We played against Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and Canada, that’s wonderful.”

“We have an objective of winning the World Cup one day. Morocco showed we can go toe-to-toe with these teams. We are now one of the top four teams in the world.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Morocco won their only Afcon title in 1976 with their best-ever finish since a second-place finish in 2004. They reached the quarter-finals in the 2021 edition in Cameroon.

The Atlas Lions have been the fairytale team of the 2022 World Cup, finishing top of their group before becoming the first-ever African side to make it to the semi-finals.

Morocco lost two matches, the 2-1 defeat to France in the semi-final and the third-place playoff to Croatia, having not conceded a goal from an opposition player before then.

WHAT’S MORE? Regragui blamed fatigue for their defeat to Croatia. "Physically it was difficult, our players got tired, it was very intense. We wanted to make the fans more proud than they already were, that's it."

WHAT’S NEXT? Morocco will be next in action in March 2023 when the Afcon qualifiers resume.