Morocco will have the support of the entire continent if they defeat Portugal on Saturday, according to coach Walid Regragui. North Africa will meet Portugal at Al Thumama Stadium after defeating Spain on penalties in the final 16.
Regragui: Africa supports Morocco at World Cup
A semi-final versus England or France and a place in history are on the line. Senegal and Ghana were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 1990. Morocco boasts the best defence in the tournament, conceding only one goal in four games.
Goncalo Ramos scored three goals in Portugal’s 6-1 win over Switzerland without Cristiano Ronaldo. Regragui would like Ronaldo’s name not to appear on the Portuguese teamsheet. Morocco’s victory in Qatar prompted joy at home and among the European Moroccan diaspora. Fourteen of Regragui’s 26-man roster are foreign-born.
But Regragui warned: “We can t rest on our laurels. We haven t got carried away, we ve just surprised a few people and a few algorithms who expected Belgium or Spain to be in the quarterfinals.”
“They re going to be fresh,” he said. “I don t know if Ronaldo s going to play, but I hope he doesn t. I know he s one of the best players in history so I don t want him to play.”
“People are identifying with us, and we’ve managed to unite Moroccans behind this football team,” he said. “I think that s worth more than anything; it s worth more than money; it s worth more than titles.
“We ve made people happy, we ve made people proud but that s not the only reason we re here — we re here to win matches and go as far as we can in this tournament.”