Head Coach of Morocco, Walid Regragui, who led the Atlas Lions to a fairytale run at the tournament which ended last night here in Qatar declared on Saturday night that an Africa country is likely to win the World Cup in the next 15 to 20 years.
Regragui led Morocco to the semifinal of Qatar 2022 and lost the third-place match to Croatia on Saturday night to finish overall fourth place amongst the 32 teams to featured here.
Morocco knocked out European powerhouses like Belgium, Portugal and Spain on the road to qualifying for the last four stage of the tournament. It was the first time an African country was making it beyond the quarter final. Morocco only defeat in the World Cup here were to France in the semis and Croatia in the third-place.
But speaking at the post match conference of the third-place match inside the Khalifa international Stadium in Doha, Regragui insisted that Morocco’s overall performance has shown that it is possible for an African team that work very hard could win the World Cup.
According to Regragui, European teams fare better at the World Cup because they have participated in several tournaments, gaining the needed experience passed down to several generations of players.
The next World Cup in 2026, to be hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico, will be expanded to 48 teams, and Africa will have at least nine slots – up from the current five.
“Our problem in Africa, without meaning to criticise, we can’t have just five African teams in the World Cup, given the number of teams there are,” Regragui said.
“When we see that Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa or Mali, who didn’t participate, it’s hard as it is just to come back. Now, I think we’ll have nine teams (in 2026), it’ll allow us to learn, and I think in 15-20 years, I’m certain an African team would win the World Cup because we’ll be back and apply what we’ve learned.
“This experience will teach our boys and give them a football DNA. I think even those who have watched the matches on TV have learned the necessary details from watching to win a World Cup title,” stressed the Moroccan coach who led Wydad Casablanca to win CAF Champions League
Regragui insisted Morocco gave a good account and showed that African teams work hard, adding that this memorable run doesn’t mean Morocco’s a lot stronger.
“We will have to learn, just like we learned from Ghana in 2010 in their quarter-final, how to pass that milestone.
“Africans and Moroccans have a goal to, hopefully, win the World Cup one day. Today I think we learned a lot from the semi-final and this third-place game.
“Now, it’s going to put a lot more pressure on us, and it might lead to a stronger competitive spirit in Africa because everyone hopes to have the same journey as we did.”
Asked if this crop of Moroccans is the greatest generation of footballers, Regragui said they’ll have to dominate the African continent first by winning the Africa Cup of Nations trophy to cement their position as one of the greatest.
The Atlas Lions have won the AFCON just once in 1976 and have only gone as far as the quarter-finals in the last three editions.
“I say to the boys in the locker room, if you want to make history, you have to win the Africa Cup. By winning an African Cup, we will be the best African team.
“Before being the king of the world, you have to be the king at home. We have to dominate our continent. It may be an aggressive speech from me, but we’re ambitious and want to do it,” he concluded.