Wednesday Dec 21, 2022. 16:00
Morocco head coach Walid Regragui has urged his team to “dominate our continent” by winning an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title.
The Atlas Lions enjoyed a brilliant 2022 World Cup, becoming the first African team to reach the semifinals.
Though they were ultimately outclassed by France, and then succumbed to Croatia in the third-place playoff, Morocco have set a new benchmark for the continent.
Regragui has deservedly been given high praise for his work in charge of the national team, but the ambitious coach has already turned his attention to a new ambition: winning Morocco’s second AFCON title (and a first since way back in 1976).
The North African side have been to just one AFCON final (2004, losing to host nation Tunisia) since that triumph 46 years ago.
In the most recent AFCON in Cameroon at the start of this year, they reached the quarterfinals under Regragui’s predecessor, Vahid Halilhodzic, before being ousted after extra time by Egypt.
“We have a stage to get past. We need to build on that, with hard work and desire. This DNA is not just being built for Morocco, but for the continent,” said Regragui in the wake of their World Cup exploits, as quoted by KingFut.
“I said to the players in the changing room, if you want to go down in history then you’re going to have to win the Africa Cup of Nations. We need to dominate our continent.
“[In the future] we’ll take stock and all realise we’ve pulled off a fantastic achievement here. We’ve earned a great deal of experience in a short space of time.
“We’ve gone further than expected but it’s not enough. It needs to set an example for the future. I hope that everybody (in Africa) will learn from the experience.
“We’ve got a great future ahead of us and we’ll keep moving forward. Of course, we have the objective of winning the World Cup one day.
“There’s going to be more pressure on us going forward and hopefully there will be more African teams following our example.
“With nine participants, we’re going to learn. In 15 or 20 years, I’m sure an African team will win the World Cup because we’ll have learned.
“We’ve shown we can go toe to toe with top teams. Really very small details determine these games,” concluded the Atlas Lions tactician.
Morocco will hope to qualify for, and then potentially win, the next AFCON which will be held in the Ivory Coast in January and February of 2024.