Remarkable as Morocco’s Atlas Lions, Walid Regragui continue in their determined runs at the World Cup

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The Moroccan’s Atlas Lions team and its coach, Walid Regragui continue to break records at Qatar 2022

Tunde Niyi-Akinmade

On any statistics, the Moroccan football team has the best records at the 2022 World Cup. The Atlas Lions are now the team to beat for the converted trophy. But no doubt, the other three remaining teams: defending champion, France, Argentina and Croatia are taking the North African as a serious contender for the trophy contested every four years.

Since the 2022 edition of the competition started on November 20, 2022, the Moroccans have built an impressive record ahead of all teams in the competition. It has proven to be the most discipline in the defence, the team with the least conceded goals, just one, an own-goal against Canada. And one of the two teams is yet to lose a match.

The Atlas Lions with the coach, Walid Regragui have also broken some Continental records at the World Cup. Right now, Morocco is the only African country to have played in the Quarter Final of the competition and the only one to have qualified for the Semi-Final.

On the other hand, Regragui is the only African to have coached a team at the Quarter Finals of the World Cup and the only African to have qualified a team for the Semi-Finals,

The beautiful thing behind the Atlas Lions’ achievements at the Qatar World Cup is the execution of their strategy. It is a beautiful strategy crafted by an expert, Regragui and beautifully executed by the players.

And they have slayed many giants along the way. These include Belgium, Spain and Portugal, all football powerhouses with world-famous footballers.

The North Africans have carried proudly carried the African torch at the World Cup held at the venue closest to the African continent.

In the end, it was another beautifully executed football strategy, expertly scripted by an expert coach and beautifully executed by a close-knit disciplined team of players.

Once again, Walid Regragui and his players broke other records in World Cup history. Coming into the Quarter Final match again Portugal, the Atlas Lions and their coach had become the first African team and coach to ever play in the 92-year-old competition.

The Atlas Lions surpassed the African Second round records achieved by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

No matter what their critics and sceptics might say about the Moroccans’ performances at the 2022 World Cup, the team had achieved a superb run. It is a team that has recognized its major strengths and built on them. Their achievements are based on hard sweat, self-belief, and daring. The team has taken on each opponent without respect for big names, believing in their capability and matching all opponents’ power for power. Right from a tough group pairing based on its world’s latest rating down to a Group of 16 match, many did not give them a chance to win; and down to knocking out Portugal and leaving world-famous Cristiano Ronaldo in tears with the probability of never playing at another World Cup.

Now, the Atlas Lions’ self-belief has ignited a ray of hope across the African continent and the Arab world.

The celebration and hope are going on as many are hanging on the world of Regragui in an interview after the Portuguese match.

“Why can’t we? Why can’t our players dream? You have to dare to dream. You have to have that ambition. The dream is not yet over,” he said

And it might be true. The team has only conceded one own goal in about 480 hours of play. The Moroccan’s defence has been robust, impregnable and rock-solid under Regragui.

And the man Bono is still strong at the heart of this defence. Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, aka Bono, is proven a team saviour at Qatar 2022. In the Group of 16 match against Spain, his performance was sterling and at the Quarter Final, he was superb.

And the remaining 10 men on the field are ever ready to boldly block and defend any move by the opponents employing every talent, strategy and even trick to keep any move of the opponent from resulting in a goal.  There is no doubt that the Atlas Lions as a team are ready to out-think and out-fight any opponent at Qatar 2022, even if they can outplay them. And this is proving critical in their World Cup campaign.

An amazing fact about the Moroccan team is that 14 of the 26-man squad were born outside the African country. And their fans and supporters, especially family members are standing behind them to provide the needed support and motivation out of the field for in

It is so interesting seeing the mothers delighting in the success of their sons. The Moroccan team of mothers- supporters are showcasing the Arab family values at the Qatar 2022 competition. After the Portuguese match, Sofiane Boufal danced with mum on the pitch and Regragui went up the stand to kneed down and hug mum, Fatima. She has lived in Paris for more than 50 years and has never travelled to watch him as a player or coach but he insisted she comes to the World Cup in Qatar. And maybe this is the talisman for the team- playing before some of their mothers.

The team is also banking on the good wishes and support Morocco of other Africans and Sarabs as they sojourned on at the ongoing 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar hoping to make history as the first African country to reach the World Cup Final stage as they take on France in the Semi Final on Wednesday.

“We want to show that Africa deserves to be here, Morocco deserves to be here. We have a whole people behind us, a continent behind us and the Arab world behind us. That’s a lot of energy behind us. We’re going to try and do everything we can. We can do it, we can make history again. It (the support) can push us, help us actually to play with this pressure, not to make any mistakes.

“People are identifying with us and we’ve managed to unite Moroccans behind this football team,” he said. “I think that’s worth more than anything, it’s worth more than money, it’s worth more than titles,” Regragui said.

 

 

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