Morocco coach Walid Regragui mentioned his facet are “the Rocky Balboa of this World Cup” after the Atlas Lions turned the primary African crew ever to achieve 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 towards 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 crew Belgium within the group stage.
“If you watch Rocky, you need to assist Rocky Balboa due to his arduous work and dedication and I feel we are the Rocky Balboa of this World Cup,” Regragui advised reporters.
“We’re changing into the crew that everybody loves at this World Cup, as a result of we’re displaying that even when you do not have as a lot expertise, in the event you present that need, coronary heart and perception, you possibly can obtain.
“I am certain a lot of you’ll say this can be a miracle, however we have received with out conceding towards Belgium, Spain, Portugal and that is the results of arduous work.”
Morocco will tackle both holders France or England on Wednesday at Al Bayt Stadium with the prospect to develop into the primary nation from outdoors Europe or South America to achieve the ultimate.
“We are able to dream, why should not we dream about profitable the World Cup?” added Regragui, who solely took over as coach in August.
“It does 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’ve 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.”
– ‘We needed to write historical past’ –
Morocco had already surpassed expectations by changing into solely the fourth African nation and first Arab nation to achieve the quarter-finals.
However they managed to go one step additional than Cameroon in 1990, Senegal’s 2002 facet and the Ghana crew of 2010.
“We got here up towards a very nice Portugal crew. We’re drawing on all we’ve got, we nonetheless have guys injured. We have now a mindset,” Regragui advised France’s TF1.
“I advised the fellows earlier than the match we needed to write historical past for Africa. I am very, very glad.”
Regragui, a France-born former Morocco worldwide, had already made historical past of his personal as the primary African coach to take a crew 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 did a unbelievable job,” mentioned Regragui. “We’re a 26-man squad and to get far on this event we’ll want all of them.”
Morocco nonetheless have one of the best defensive report within the World Cup. The one time they’ve conceded in 5 matches was an personal objective towards Canada.
“It is loopy. We’re residing a dream and we do not need to get up. I’ve goosebumps,” mentioned winger Sofiane Boufal.
“All the things we’ve got, we deserve. We work arduous. It is not over. There’s nonetheless the semi-final and god prepared, the ultimate.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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