Saturday 24 February 2024

‘Good to Get into the Competition’: Morocco’s Head Coach Optimistic about Team’s AFCON Victory

San Pedro – In reaction to Morocco’s remarkable debut at the 2023 AFCON, head coach Walid Regragui expressed that this 3-0 victory over Tanzania would set the tone for a successful campaign in the prestigious tournament.

“The first match is always difficult. We were fortunate to be the last in the group to play. We were able to handle that match. It’s good to get into the competition,” Regragui stated during the post-match press conference, acknowledging the challenges that come with the initial encounter.

The coach emphasized the physical demands of the game but praised the adaptability of his players. Looking forward, he emphasized the team’s strategy of taking each game as it comes and discussed the upcoming challenge against DR Congo. The early kick-off time of 2 p.m. local time poses a difficulty, but Regragui expressed confidence in the team’s ability to cope with such limitations.

“I am pleased with the players’ performance. In Africa, you fight against opponents, but also against weather conditions,” he explained, highlighting the unique challenges faced by teams in the continent.

As the Moroccan squad gears up for their next match, facing DR Congo, Regragui’s focus remains on navigating the competition successfully. The coach’s positive assessment of the players’ adaptability and performance bodes well for the team’s prospects in the tournament.

The second match in this group, scheduled for the first round, will see DR Congo go head-to-head with Zambia. Football enthusiasts await the unfolding drama as AFCON 2023 continues to captivate audiences with thrilling matches and impressive displays of skill.

MAP

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We need to learn from our elimination in the Round of 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON-2023) in Côte d’Ivoire and look to the future to bounce back stronger, said national coach Walid Regragui.

“We went into this AFCON with the reputation of finishing fourth at the World Cup, so every team was looking to beat the Moroccan team. We weren’t up to the task, perhaps because of the pressure. It’s a competition that hasn’t been easy for us historically. We need to look at the problems that are holding us back and resolve them in preparation for the next AFCON in Morocco,” stressed Regragui in an interview broadcast by the Arryadia channel on Friday.

“We’re one of the teams who have created the most chances at this AFCON and we had possession of the ball, but we lacked efficiency. That’s something we need to work on,” added the Moroccan coach.

Referring to preparations for the AFCON, Regragui said conditions were good. “Our preparations began 15 days before the first match. We went early to get acclimatized, which is what had to be done in terms of preparation. The Royal Moroccan Football Federation has ensured the right conditions for this participation”, he said.

With regard to the changes made to the squad during the competition, Regragui stated that they were motivated by the profile of each player and their usefulness for each match, not forgetting injuries and illnesses which necessitated changes to the team.

Concerning the competitiveness of some of the players called up, he noted that “on the physical side, there’s no logic. We had a top-class World Cup with players who weren’t regulars at their clubs. Perhaps it’s the mental aspect that has affected the team’s game”.

Regragui also spoke about the incident with DR Congo player Chancel Mbemba, which led to his suspension, later overturned by the CAF Appeals Committee. “Maybe it is my fault. I like approaching players and greet them in good faith, but perhaps the timing was wrong. These things happen in soccer.

Rabat – The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) announced on Monday that it had renewed its confidence in Walid Regragui as the national team’s head coach.

In a press release, the FRMF said it has “renewed its confidence in the national head coach, Walid Regragui, while assuring that it will continue to mobilize all means capable of ensuring the national team’s full success.”

According to the same source, FRMF President and Chairman of the National Teams Commission, Fouzi Lejkaa, held a series of assessment meetings with Walid Regragui, devoted to the national team’s participation in the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (2023-AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire.

During these meetings, the national head coach recalled the various phases of preparation of the Atlas Lions for this continental event and the course of the National Eleven, which stopped in the round of 16, “causing disappointment to all components of the football sphere,” underlines the release.

The meetings were also an opportunity to take stock and draw lessons from the Atlas Lions’ participation, especially their latest performance against South Africa.

On this occasion, Lekjaa insisted on the need to continue the work in order to give the Moroccan team and national football the place they deserve, and to warm the hearts of the Moroccan supporters during the forthcoming competitions, including the 2026 World Cup qualifiers and the 35th edition of the AFCON, which will be played in the Kingdom during the summer of 2025, in accordance with the High Royal Solicitude, notes the press release.

Rabat – In the aftermath of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN-2023) clash between Morocco and Congo, the Congolese Football Federation (FECOFA) has officially communicated its respect for the decision of the Appeals Board of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The decision pertains to the disturbances that occurred post-match and involved both national teams.

A letter addressed to the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) from FECOFA underlines that the Appeals Board’s ruling conclusively brings an end to the controversy surrounding the disturbances. It reflects the commitment of the Congolese Football Federation to maintaining “close” relations with the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, emphasizing joint efforts for the development of football in both nations.

The communication from FECOFA comes in the wake of the Appeals Board’s decision to overturn the disciplinary action previously taken against Morocco’s head coach Walid El Regragui.

The CAF Appeals Board annulled the four-match suspension initially imposed on Coach Walid Regragui. This penalty was a consequence of the post-match disturbances following the Morocco – DR Congo fixture, which ended in a 1-1 draw during the second round of the group stage of CAN 2023.

Additionally, the Appeals Board nullified the previously imposed fine against the Regragui. This decision followed hearings on pleas presented by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation.

Notably, the CAF Disciplinary Committee had earlier decided to suspend Walid Regragui for four matches. Regragui had observed the Morocco-Zambia match from the stands of the Laurent Pokou Stadium in San-Pédro.

Lomé – In a testament to the thriving state of Moroccan soccer, Togolese Football Federation (FTF) President Guy Kossi Akpovy highlighted the pivotal role played by the Mohammed VI Football Academy. Akpovy emphasized that the academy stands as a beacon of the burgeoning Moroccan soccer scene, underscoring the profound interest exhibited by HM King Mohammed VI in the sport’s development.

Morocco has embraced structural reforms aimed at propelling its football to new heights, with the Mohammed VI Football Academy emerging as a major driver of this transformative agenda, according to the FTF President’s statement to MAP.

Established in 2009, the academy has injected renewed vigor into Moroccan football through its commitment to providing high-level training. Akpovy lauded the Kingdom as a trailblazer in talent development, not only in Africa but on a global scale, citing the academy as a model to emulate.

“I had the honor of visiting the facilities of the Mohammed VI Academy. I believe that Moroccan football is very fortunate to have such a structure with high-quality sports facilities and training grounds. It is an excellent framework that promotes the growth of Moroccan football,” remarked Akpovy, expressing admiration for the academy’s infrastructure.

The success of the Mohammed VI Academy is evidenced by the emergence of football talents such as Youssef En-Nesyri and Nayef Aguerd, who have become integral members of the national team. Akpovy, also a member of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), noted the academy’s impact on Morocco’s unprecedented achievement at the last World Cup in Qatar, where the team reached the semi-finals.

“At the last World Cup in Qatar, Morocco honored the entire Africa by reaching, for the first time, the semi-finals of a World Cup. This is not a coincidence. In reality, the systematic approach of Moroccan training has a considerable impact on the performance of the national team. It is a true source of inspiration for my country, Togo,” emphasized Akpovy.

Spanning approximately 18 hectares, the Mohammed VI Football Academy, with investments totaling around MAD 140 million, adheres to the standards of world-class European training centers. It has been meticulously designed to provide young Moroccans with optimal conditions for receiving top-tier training, enabling them to progress to leading clubs in Morocco and Europe.

San Pedro (Côte d’Ivoire) – Morocco, lacking injured talisman Hakim Ziyech, were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday after losing 0-2 against South Africa.

South Africa’s goals were scored by Evidence Makgopa (57th) and Teboho Mokoena (90+5th).

Washington – Morocco’s national football team head coach, Walid Regragui, highlighted, in an interview broadcast by CNN, the ambitions of the Atlas Lions at the Africa Cup of Nations, noting that the team will do its best to win the tournament.

Winning the Africa Cup of Nations “is very hard” but the players “will do their best” to claim the title and make the Moroccan people happy again, said the head coach of Morocco, which according to the US news channel is now part of the “elite” of world football after the historic performance achieved at the last World Cup.

“More than a year after a fairytale performance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, all eyes are still on Morocco’s national football team and its head coach Walid Regragui,” CNN pointed out.

“And to up the stakes even more, they are one of the favorites to win this latest edition of the Africa Cup of Nations,” CNN added during this interview carried out at the Mohammed VI Football Complex in Salé.

According to Regragui, Morocco has “important goals” during this CAN. “In this training center [Mohammed VI Football Complex] there is a photograph of the national team which were the last winners of the African Cup in 1976. Every day when the players come here, they look at the photo and get inspired. My goal as a coach is not to remove this photo but it is to put a new photo of the next winners here,” Morocco’s head coach stressed.

The Atlas Lions head coach, who noted that Morocco must regularly qualify for the World Cup, did not rule out the possibility that an African team would win the trophy one day.

Regarding his personal achievements, Africa’s “Coach of the Year” said that “these are not things I’m very interested in”. “What interests me most is my team,” he underlined.

“Today many individual trophies are awarded, either CAF, Ballon d’Or or FIFA Awards. It is nice to see Africans like myself at these awards, because it enhances the continent, and most of all, it enhances the Moroccan football landscape,” Regragui said.

On Tuesday, Morocco will take on South Africa in the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations.