Bet Slip

No Bets Added

Walid Regragui: How Morocco’s Manager Caused Shockwaves at the World Cup


2022 World Cup Tips

skybet logo
Giroud 1+ headed shot on target and Griezmann & Hakimi 1+ shot on target from outside the area each in 90 mins @ 75/1

Walid Regragui: How Morocco’s Manager Caused Shockwaves at the World Cup

Morocco’s 1 - 0 win over Portugal in the Quarter-Finals at the 2022 Qatar World Cup not only shocked the footballing world but also made them the first African side to ever make the Semi-Finals at a World Cup.

His side will meet World Cup holders France this Wednesday in a match that could see Morocco make even more history.

The managerial spot for Morocco’s national team had long been a talking point and a controversial aspect of their set-up. However, the appointment of Walid Regragui has seemingly put these worries to bed.

2022 World Cup Tips

skybet logo
Giroud to score or assist and Hernandez & Mazraoui to be carded in 90 mins @ 66/1

Previous Managerial Conflict

Vahid Halilhodžić was the Morocco manager from 2019 to 2022, but his stint was not without conflict and controversy. Though the official reason given for Haliljodzic’s dismissal by the Moroccan football federation was that there were “divergent visions”, another reason may lie with the Bosnian’s treatment of Hakim Ziyech.

Following Morocco’s exit from the African Cup of Nations at the Quarter-finals in 2021, Halilhodžić defended Ziyech’s absence from the squad and added more flames to the fire with his statement that the midfielder would “not be welcome back even if his name was Lionel Messi”.

The conflict mainly originated from a friendly in June of 2021 against Burkina Faso, where Halilhodžić disproved of Ziyech’s behaviour, stating he did not fit the selection and was not a positive role model in the team.

Ziyech was an integral part of the Morocco team, with the Chelsea player being one of the stars of the side, as has been seen during this World Cup campaign. However, in 2021 Ziyech responded to Haliljodzic with accusations that he was lying and announced his retirement from international football at the age of 28.

Since Halilhodžić's dismissal, Ziyech has been welcomed back into the squad by Regragui, a positive choice considering how this World Cup has shaped up, with Ziyech scoring one and registering an assist in his five games this World Cup.

How Have the Previous Managers Fared?

Prior to Regragui’s success in reaching the World Cup Semi-Finals, there have been small sparks of success.

As stated above, Halilhodzic managed to guide his Morocco side to the Quarter-finals of one of the most competitive African Cup of Nations, bowing out to eventual Finalists Egypt, losing 2 - 1 after extra time.

Herve Renard helped Morocco to the 2018 World Cup where the Atlas Lions could only register a single point, with a 2 - 2 draw against Spain. Renard’s record at the African Cup of Nations left something to be desired, losing 1 - 0 in the Quarter-finals in 2017 to Egypt and bowing out in the Round of 16 in 2019 after a 1- 1 draw with Benin and a 4 - 1 loss on penalties after extra time.

Both Eric Gerets and Rachid Taoussi failed to make it out of the group stages in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

However, Morocco did win the African Cup of Nations on one occasion, first in 1976 under Virgil Mardarescu, and reached the Final in 2004 under Ezzaki Badou, where they lost 2 - 1 to Tunisia.

Regragui’s Tactics

Regragui’s tactics have been a talking point for many this World Cup, with the manager being able to navigate many tough situations and garnering praise from the likes of Roma manager Jose Mourinho.

In this World Cup, one of the main praises Regragui has received is his set-up of the Moroccan defence. In the five games they have played, Morocco have only conceded once, and the opponents have included footballing giants such as Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, with the only goal actually coming from the least likely candidates, Canada.

Throughout the tournament, Regragui’s side have been well-organised, extremely resilient and necessarily pragmatic. For example, against Portugal in the Quarter-Finals, Morocco started the game in a 4-3-3 formation. But as the game progressed Regragui realised that, in a bid to find the equaliser, there was an influx of Portugal players in the final third. In response, Regragui shuffled his side into a 5 - 4 - 1 formation in order to stay defensively solid and to protect the lead.

Regragui has also highlighted a few key players in his system, namely captain Romain Saiss, Yassine Bounou and Sofyan Amrabat. Saiss, as a central defender, leads from the back, encapsulating the resilience Morocco have now become known for. The goalkeeper, Bounou, has been extremely impressive, keeping clean sheets and making two pivotal saves in the shootout against Spain. Amrabat was also more than impressive against Spain, keeping their young midfield in check.

Overall, Morocco have been one of the biggest surprises at the World Cup, and both Morocco and Regragui’s resilience will have to be as strong as ever as they face their biggest test yet against France.