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Watch out Modric! Ex-Morocco boss Halilhodzic explains how Atlas Lions can beat Croatia

4:04 PM GMT 19/11/2022
Achraf Hakimi of Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic at Afcon.
Former Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic believes discipline will be key if the Atlas Lions have to prevail against Croatia in their World Cup opener.
  • Halilhodzic has explained how Morocco can overcome Croatia
  • Ex-coach highlighted tactical discipline & bravery as keys to success
  • Morocco will face the 2018 finalists in their World Cup opening match

WHAT HAPPENED? Halilhodzic led Morocco to World Cup qualification before he was sacked in controversial fashion just three months to the tournament, in what the country’s FA described as his ‘tendency to alienate players from the national team.’

While he regrets that he will not be leading the team in Qatar, the Franco-Bosnian coach feels they can win their Group F opener against a Luka Modric-led Croatia, if they show tactical discipline and bravery.

WHAT DID HE SAY? "For Morocco's success in this match, the key will be discipline in the work of the team and behaviour,” said Halilhodzic as quoted by 360Sport. “Because every game of the World Cup will be a great tactical battle in which the things mentioned will prevail.”

“Of course, I'm sorry for not leading Morocco against Croatia, I lived this match, I already started to prepare. I had ideas for this match, I was optimistic, even if Croatia are a big favourite.”

“But, at the World Cup, in one match, anything is possible. You just have to believe in it and be prepared. You have to deserve the victory; nobody will give you anything. You have to be brave, talented and sacrifice yourself at the same time.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Halilhodzic led Morocco to 20 wins, seven draws and three defeats since his appointment in 2019 but he had a frosty relationship with a number of players, most notably, Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech.

He angered Atlas Lions supporters when he omitted Ziyech from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations squad, accusing the player of a ‘bad attitude’. The winger vowed to never play for Morocco again as long as Halilhodzic was still in charge.

His successor Walid Regragui, however, recalled Ziyech and the winger, who scored an outrageous goal against Georgia on Thursday, is now among their key players at the World Cup where they have Croatia, Belgium and Canada in their group.

While Croatia and Belgium are seen as favourites, Morocco also possess some of the world’s top players including Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi of Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla duo Youssef En-Nesyri and Yassine Bounou as well as Sofiane Boufal of Angers.

WHAT’S NEXT? The Atlas Lions will take on the 2018 finalists in their opening match on November 23.