Morocco coach terms World Cup journey as 'priceless'
Morocco may have seen their dreams of a maiden World Cup final crushed at the hands of defending champions France, but coach Walid Regragui is happy to have guided his side to the stage, which was beyond the wildest imagination of the most fervent supporters before the tournament.
Having only been charge for three months of the Atlas Lions, regarded as rank outsiders to emerge from a group that also involved Croatia, Belgium and Canada, Regragui not only guided his side to the top of the group but also took them to the semis, eliminating Belgium, Spain and Portugal on the way.
Even though Regragui is sad at not making it to the final, the 47-year-old felt enough pride in what his team achieved.
"I told my players this is our seventh World Cup game. If you told any Morocco fan we would be playing our seventh game on Dec. 17, they would be proud.
"Morocco played six World Cup games in 20-odd years and now we've played six games in a month - this is priceless. It's as if we played two World Cups or even more, that's beautiful from an experience point of view," Regragui told a pre-match press conference.
Morocco and Croatia complete a full circle as these two teams kicked off their group with a goalless draw. As they meet each other again, the coach feels both teams will certainly want to end the campaign on a high.
"We knew Croatia were going to be one of the best teams in the competition. After the first game (where Morocco and Croatia drew 0-0 in the group stage) we knew the performance was very good," Regragui said. "There was a lot of hesitation for the first game... Both teams will want to win it (on Saturday) and it will be a great game."
The coach said he would not make too many changes to the squad as that would upset the team balance.