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Morocco set to unveil former Wydad Casablanca tactician Regragui as Atlas Lions new coach

2:40 AM MYT 31/08/2022
Former Wydad Casablanca tactician Walid Regragui.
The 46-year-old seems to have won the race to succeed Vahid Halilhodzic in the national team dugout after his continental success

Former Wydad Casablanca tactician Walid Regragui is reportedly set to be unveiled as the new Morocco national team coach on Wednesday.

Morocco sacked Franco-Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic this month, just three months prior to the World Cup, with Regragui, who left Wydad at the end of the 2021-22 season in July, installed as the favourite.

The 46-year-old left Wydad after just one season at the club but managed to retain the league title while also conquering the continent by winning the Caf Champions League after beating Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the final.

There were reports that former Napoli, Inter Milan and Watford coach Walter Mazzarri was set to be handed the reins after meeting with Morocco FA boss Fouzi Lekjaa this month but according to Morocco’s 360 Sport, Regragui has won the race, especially after fans called for a local coach to be installed.

Halilhodzic was sacked for what Lekjaa said was a tendency to alienate players from the national team following his frosty relationship with a number of Atlas Lions stars.

He angered Morocco fans when he omitted Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations squad, accusing the player of a ‘bad attitude and feigning an injury’.

The decision did not go down well with the former Ajax star who then retired from international football, vowing never to play for his country again as long as the coach was still in charge.

Halilhodzic also fell out with Schalke 04 midfielder Amine Harit and Bayern Munich full-back Noussair Mazraoui before recalling them into the squad ahead of June’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Regragui’s first task will, therefore, be to repair the damaged relationships, including recalling Ziyech into the squad, as he prepares for the World Cup while the federation has also set high targets for Halilhodzic’s successor.

“In addition to preparing the national team for the World Cup, our goals are clear; a qualification for the World Cup and the African Cup of Nations is not negotiable,” Lekjaa said of what he expects from Morocco’s new coach.

“Since we are the second team in Africa (behind Senegal, according to the Fifa ranking), we must reach the final of the African Nations Cup. We have a year to prepare for this event, which will take place in January 2024 in Ivory Coast.”

Morocco, who are in Group F of the World Cup alongside Canada, Croatia and Belgium have lined up two friendly matches against Chile and Paraguay in Spain next month.