Moroccan coach and former Atlas Lions defender Walid Regragui Tuesday became the first Arab and North African coach to lead his team to the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup.
The 47-year-old Moroccan coach has been praised by commentators and fans for the tactics he has deployed which have led to the Atlas Lions being labelled the dark horse at the 2022 edition of the global tournament.
Speaking ahead of the knockout Round of 16 clash between Morocco and Spain, Regragui said he was confident in his team and reminded them to treat every group fixture as though they were playing in the finals of the global tournament.
“I told the players before the World Cup that we are only playing finals here,” said Regragui.
More Moyo, a Zimbabwean sports commentator and former footballer described Morocco’s coach as the most outstanding and applauded his tactical choices.
“Morocco has been the most outstanding as they are not conceding,” said Moyo.
When asked to comment on the performance of the four other African representatives at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Moyo said, “Ghana lacked luck and Senegal lacked the finishing touch,” and added, “the loss of star forward Sadio Mane was telling, and Cameroon never showed up.”
Like Regragui, Ghana’s coach Otto Addo is a former representative of the Black Stars who fans hoped would revenge a 2010 FIFA World loss to Uruguay, but instead rehashed history and resigned thereafter.
“I said I would resign after the World Cup even if we were world champions,” said Addo, adding, “at the moment, me and my family see our future in Germany, and I like my role at Dortmund.”
Jalel Kadri, Tunisia’s head coach who faced elimination despite beating the reigning champions France 1-0 in their final group fixture, expressed confidence in his ability to lead the Carthage Eagles.
“Unfortunately, we exited the tournament, but we also left the game with a lot of honor and pride,” said Kadri.
Aliou Cisse, another former player who led his nation, Senegal’s Lions of Teranga, received praise for leading the African champions to the Round of 16 despite being knocked out by England.
Despite the praise, the Senegalese coach expressed disappointment over his teams exit.
“We have worked for years to be African champions but now we were up against one of the top five teams in the world and I think you saw the difference,” said Cisse.
Analysts say even though Morocco is the only African team that advanced to the quarterfinals, African coaches should be applauded for their notable victories.
Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions were among the African squads that bowed out in style after the West African nation beat the 5-time FIFA World Cup winners, Brazil 1-0 after 30-year-old veteran striker Vincent Aboubakar cushioned a header past the Samba boys goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.