DOHA, December 17 (Reuters) – Morocco will leave Qatar proud and happy to become the first African or Arab team to reach the last four at the World Cup, but they should aim for more in the future, coach Walid Reragui said on Saturday.
Morocco were beaten 2-1 by Croatia on Saturday to book their third place in the play-offs, but Reragui praised his young players, saying they had done everything asked of them in the tournament, beating elite teams including Belgium, Portugal and Spain en route to the tournament. semi-finals.
“We wanted to give joy to our fans, but we are still happy, we are among the top four teams in the world,” Reragui told reporters.
“We gave everyone a good performance, we never gave up. Congratulations to Croatia, they deserved third place. We are a young team that is still learning.”
Regragui said his team, who had the best defensive performance in Qatar before Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to France, felt the physical strain of the intense tournament after the seventh game.
“Of course, I’m a little disappointed with this second loss in a row, but we did our best,” Reragui said.
“Physically it was difficult, our players were tired, it was very stressful. We wanted to make the fans more proud than they already were, that’s all.”
Morocco’s campaign in Qatar has given African football a huge morale boost after none of the five African nations qualified for the 2018 World Cup. Russian group stage.
“I think we have shown our strength, we have shown that African football is ready to compete with the top teams in the world with efficiency and playing at the highest level,” Reragui told a press conference.
“We will probably understand what we achieved in Qatar only four years later, at the next World Cup. The pressure will also be greater, people around will be expected. It’s natural.
“We had a great achievement, but we want to do it again. It won’t be easy, but that’s the goal.”
Regraguis said he hoped their performance in Qatar would leave a lasting legacy for African football.
“You get stronger through experience and I hope we will learn, grow and create a lasting soccer DNA for our children in Africa,” he said.
“Now we’ve allowed kids to dream, dream of being footballers and going to the World Cup. It’s priceless. We’ve raised the bar high in terms of impact in our country.
“I am sure that in 15 years, an African team will win the World Cup.”
Reporting by Fernando Kalls Editing by Toby Davis
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