Morocco coach Walid Regragui stated his facet are “the Rocky Balboa of this World Cup” after the Atlas Lions grew to become the primary African staff ever to succeed in the semi-finals with a shocking victory over Portugal on Saturday.
The injury-hit North Africans held on for a 1-0 victory at Al Thumama Stadium to arrange a last-four conflict in opposition to both England or France, after Youssef En-Nesyri’s headed objective late within the first half.
The win over Portugal got here after knocking out Spain within the final 16 on penalties and beating the world’s second-ranked staff Belgium within the group stage.
“Once you watch Rocky, you need to help Rocky Balboa due to his onerous work and dedication and I feel we are the Rocky Balboa of this World Cup,” Mr. Regragui instructed reporters.
“We’re changing into the staff that everybody loves at this World Cup, as a result of we’re exhibiting that even when you do not have as a lot expertise, for those who present that want, coronary heart and perception, you’ll be able to obtain.
“I am certain lots of you’ll say this can be a miracle, however we have received with out conceding in opposition to Belgium, Spain, Portugal and that is the results of onerous work.”
Morocco will tackle both holders France or England on Wednesday at Al Bayt Stadium with the prospect to grow to be the primary nation from outdoors Europe or South America to succeed in the ultimate.
“We are able to dream, why should not we dream about profitable the World Cup?” added Mr. Regragui, who solely took over as coach in August.
“It would not value you something to have goals. European international locations have been used to profitable the World Cup…
“We have performed some actually high sides, however to this point we have not achieved something.
“Anybody who performs us now must be on the high of their recreation to beat us, it will not be straightforward for them, that is the message I am making an attempt to ship out.”
Morocco had already surpassed expectations by changing into solely the fourth African nation and first Arab nation to succeed in the quarter-finals.
However they managed to go one step additional than Cameroon in 1990, Senegal’s 2002 facet and the Ghana staff of 2010.
“We got here up in opposition to a extremely nice Portugal staff. We’re drawing on all we now have, we nonetheless have guys injured. We have now a mindset,” Mr. Regragui instructed France’s TF1.
“I instructed the fellows earlier than the match we needed to write historical past for Africa. I am very, very joyful.”
Mr. Regragui, a France-born former Morocco worldwide, had already made historical past of his personal as the primary African coach to take a staff into the World Cup quarter-finals.
Morocco have been with out injured defenders Noussair Mazraoui and Nayef Aguerd on Saturday, whereas captain Romain Saiss was stretchered off early within the second half.
“We’re very proud as a result of the gamers who did are available in did a unbelievable job,” stated Mr. Regragui. “We’re a 26-man squad and to get far on this event we’ll want all of them.”
Morocco nonetheless have the perfect defensive document within the World Cup. The one time they’ve conceded in 5 matches was an personal objective in opposition to Canada.
“It is loopy. We’re dwelling a dream and we do not need to get up. I’ve goosebumps,” stated winger Sofiane Boufal.
“Every thing we now have, we deserve. We work onerous. It isn’t over. There’s nonetheless the semi-final and god keen, the ultimate.”