COLOMBO: The tale of the Morocco World Cup Team is akin to the triumph of the human mind over all obstacles.
Morocco’s success has largely been credited to Walid Regragui, a French-born Moroccan coach who has got only 3 months’ time before the World Cup to form a well-knit team.
Out of 26 players 14-star players were born outside of Morocco from six different countries and as a master tactician, he skillfully integrated this group of players from around the world into one coherent unit.
To break the monotony and motivate the players, Regragui allowed the players’ families to stay with the team in camp in Qatar and marshaled his plans to near perfection.
No one ever thought that Morocco, a minnow will become the first African and Arab team to advance to the World Cup semi-finals. They did it in style. They defeated the much fancied and star-studded three European nations (Belgium, Spain & Portugal) ranked inside the top ten.
Another important factor was, they played 5 games without conceding a goal to the opposition, with the lone goal conceded being their own goal. This was mainly due to Yassine Bounou’s agility in goalkeeping as well as the solid Morocco defense spearheaded by Hakimi.
Even in the semi-final, Morocco dictated the pace of the game with 61% possession and played admirably with absolute resolution, grit, and teamwork to bring back the glory to the Arab and African people.
Jawad El Yamiq’s Pele-style bicycle kick on the stroke of halftime which was saved by the French goalkeeper was the cynosure of the game.
Though they lost to reigning champion France 2-1, they won the hearts and admiration of many soccer fans all across the world.
Morrocco’s fairy-tale World Cup journey is over but not forgotten as the pride of Africa became the joy of the world.