AL THUMAMA, Qatar – Yo, Morocco, you probably did it.
Enjoying a defensive, countering model at odds with the remainder of the groups left within the World Cup, Morocco grew to become the primary African nation to achieve the match’s semifinal spherical with a historic, 1-0 win towards Portugal on Saturday.
“We’re the Rocky Balboa of this World Cup,” Morocco coach Walid Regragui stated.
Not like Rocky, although, Morocco have not been knocked down.
“We’re the crew that everybody loves on this World Cup as a result of we’re displaying the world you possibly can succeed even when you do not have as a lot expertise and cash,” Regragui added.
“It’s no miracle. Lots of you’ll say it’s, particularly in Europe, however we’ve overwhelmed Belgium, Spain and Portugal with out conceding. Now we have made our folks proud and our continent and so many individuals round, once you watch Rocky you wish to help Rocky Balboa.”
Via 5 matches, the one aim Morocco has allowed was an personal aim towards Canada. Along with the wins towards Portugal, Belgium and Spain, Regragui’s facet additionally saved a clear sheet towards fellow semifinalist Croatia.
Contemplating the stakes, the efficiency towards Portugal, who put six previous Switzerland within the spherical of 16, may need been the very best.
“Pinch me, I am dreaming,” Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou stated. “Morocco is able to face anybody on the planet. Now we have modified the mentality of the era coming after us. They’re going to know Moroccan gamers can create miracles.”
Enjoying with 73.2% of the possession, Portugal took 12 photographs, however managed simply three on aim, none of which actually bothered Bounou.
All of this got here with a backline that was lacking two common starters — Noussair Mazraoui (sickness) and Nayef Aguerd (damage) — and misplaced center-back Romain Saiss to damage within the 57th minute.
Saiss stated he’ll bear medical evaluations on Sunday and can try to be prepared for the semifinal on Wednesday.
“If I really feel it is too tough, I will not take any dangers to place my crew in hassle within the semifinal,” Saiss stated. “In fact, I am going to do every little thing I can to be there.”
And Regragui stated there is not any cause for Morocco’s World Cup dream to finish within the final 4.
“What’s vital for future generations is we have proven that it’s attainable for an African crew to get to the semifinals of the World Cup. And even the ultimate, why not?” he stated.
“In a single press convention three or 4 matches in the past, I used to be requested we might win the World Cup. And I stated, ‘Why not?’ We are able to dream. Why should not we dream? When you do not dream, you aren’t getting anyplace. It would not price you something.”