Are Morocco more Dutch than the Netherlands?

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Morocco coach Walid Regragui believes his Morocco team are firmly reaping the fruits of Dutch football.
  • Regragui impressed by quality of Netherlands-born players in his squad
  • Morocco coach feels Atlas Lions have benefited from the Dutch education
  • The 47-year-old not impressed by current style the European nation plays

WHAT HAPPENED? Morocco’s history-making World Cup squad includes Hakim Ziyech, Noussair Mazraoui, Sofyan Amrabat and Zakaria Aboukhlal who all grew up in the Netherlands, and Regragui feels that the contingent have brought a lot of their local savoir-faire to the Atlas Lions camp.

The head coach has even lauded his side for questioning a more traditionally Dutch style of play, while criticising the Netherlands.

WHAT DID HE SAY? "They [Morocco’s Dutch-born players] were trained there and you can see that," said Regragui at his pre-match press conference, speaking about his 'Dutch' players on Friday.

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"They are creative players who think in a certain way. These players also bring a certain culture with them, which is focused on winning.”

“We reap the benefits of that. Without criticising the Netherlands, the Netherlands that I have seen recently does not play the football I loved in the eighties and nineties."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Morocco has 14 foreign-born players in their squad, the highest at the 2022 World Cup, and the North Africans have benefited immensely from the football education they got in their countries of birth.

It has given the Atlas Lions confidence and quality to go toe-to-toe with the world’s best given they finished top of their group ahead of Croatia and Belgium before eliminating Spain and Portugal in the round of 16 and quarter-final respectively.

WHAT’S MORE: Regragui has also lauded the ‘milkshake’ nature of his squad although he believes they all feel more Moroccan that their countries of birth. "We have many players from different countries, including France, Spain and Italy. Our team is a kind of milkshake, but the heart is with Morocco."

WHAT’S NEXT? Morocco will seek to end their World Cup campaign on a high as they take on Croatia in the third-place playoff on Saturday.