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'It's no miracle, Morocco are the Rocky Balboa of this World Cup' - coach Regragui

18:05 GMT+3 11/12/2022
Walid Regragui of Morocco
Morocco coach Walid Regragui says not conceding against some of the world’s biggest teams is not a fluke.
  • Regragui comments on how far they have come
  • He dismisses talk they have performed miracles
  • Likens their World Cup run to film series Rocky

WHAT HAPPENED? On their way to the semi-finals of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, the Atlas Lions drew 0-0 with Croatia, beat Belgium 2-0 and held Spain 0-0 before a 1-0 quarter-final victory that eliminated Portugal. They have shipped in just one goal in five games, conceding when they beat Canada 2-1.

Regragui says many people, especially in Europe, will say Morocco's World Cup run is a miracle. But he dismisses that talk while likening his team to Rocky Balboa from the film series Rocky.

WHAT REGRAGUI SAID: “We are the Rocky Balboa of this World Cup,” said Regragui as per ESPN.

“We are the team that everyone loves in this World Cup because we are showing the world you can succeed even if you don't have as much talent and money. It is no miracle.

"Many of you will say it is, especially in Europe, but we have beaten Belgium, Spain and Portugal without conceding.

"We have made our people proud and our continent and so many people around, when you watch Rocky you want to support Rocky Balboa.”

AND WHAT MORE? Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou does not believe what they have achieved so far in this World Cup campaign. The Sevilla stopper has been one of the outstanding players in Regragui’s side. He says they have set a trend to be followed by future Atlas Lions groups.

WHAT BOUNOU SAID: “Pinch me, I'm dreaming,” Bounou said. “Morocco is ready to face anyone in the world. We have changed the mentality of the generation coming after us.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Following their impressive World Cup run, Morocco have heightened the expectations of their supporters. After making history by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time ever, they made further history by becoming the first African side to get to the semi-finals of the World Cup. There could be a belief within their camp and staunch followers they can progress to the final or even win it.

STORY IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR MOROCCO? Defending champions France lie in wait for Morocco in the last four. It is yet another tough test for the Atlas Lions who would want to prove that knocking out 2010 champions Spain and Portugal was no fluke.