Saudi win over Argentina inspires Morocco on eve of Croatia clash

Morocco are 10 places below 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia in the world rankings

Reuters
Published : 22 Nov 2022, 07:53 PM
Updated : 22 Nov 2022, 07:53 PM

Morocco are fired up by Saudi Arabia's stunning upset of World Cup favourites Argentina, their coach Walid Regragui said as he backed his team to pull off a similar feat when they face Croatia in their first Group F match on Wednesday. 

The Saudis, the second-lowest ranked team at the World Cup and coached by former Morocco boss Herve Renard, beat Lionel Messi's Argentina 2-1 to deliver one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's history. 

Morocco are 10 places below 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia in the world rankings and Regragui said his team were inspired by the way the Saudis had outplayed Argentina. 

"What is the reality of football as we know it?" Regragui told a pre-match news conference. 

"I watched the Saudi Arabia game earlier – 31 percent possession and they had three shots on target, but they won against Argentina, against the best player in history. 

"If Croatia doesn't allow us to have full possession tomorrow, OK, then we need to be very strong at the back. If they decide to give us that playing time, then we need to know exactly what we're doing with the ball when we have it." 

Renard helped rebuild the Moroccan national team, taking them to the World Cup in Russia four years ago in their first appearance at the tournament since 1998. 

Regragui congratulated Renard on the victory and said he aspired to follow in his footsteps. 

"This shakes things up on the international stage because football actually belongs to everyone," Regragui added. 

"You do have FIFA rankings, but you should respect all football players, championships and leagues. 

"For a coach such as myself, I want to follow in his footsteps. I hope he's opened the door for us. He's shown us what we can do and I hope we'll be able to feel the same as Saudi Arabia." 

Morocco captain Romain Saiss said the Saudi win proved once again that anything was possible in football. 

"When you see the result (Saudi Arabia) were able to have against one of the favourites it gets your creative juices flowing," he added. 

"It whets our appetite." 

"If you're able to put the ingredients into mix you can beat anyone. That's exactly what Renard has done. He's opened that door for us and it's up to us to follow in their footsteps tomorrow."

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher