Ecstatic Regragui urges Morocco players, fans to keep dreaming of more history

Walid Regragui’s dream of his Morocco team becoming Africa’s first World Cup semi-finalists came true on Saturday but he said they can go even further in the tournament and continue making history as they seek to inspire future generations.

Morocco became the first African and Arab country to reach the last four with a stunning 1-0 upset of Portugal, the latest scalp of their reputation-shredding run in Qatar that has broken new ground for the sport outside Europe and South America.

Youssef En-Nesyri’s towering first-half header earned them the victory which sparked euphoric scenes at the Al Thumama Stadium and left them one game away from the World Cup final.

“What’s important for future generations is we’ve shown that it is possible for an African team to get to the semi-finals of the World Cup. Or even the final, why not?” an ecstatic Regragui told reporters.

“In one press conference three or four matches ago, I was asked we could win the World Cup. And I said, ‘Why not?’ We can dream. Why shouldn’t we dream? If you don’t dream, you don’t get anywhere. It doesn’t cost you anything.”

“European countries are used to winning the World Cup, so we’re going to have to try and get in there, and go beyond ourselves.”

Having already made a mockery of their unfancied status after topping a tough Group F ahead of Croatia and Belgium, Morocco toppled Spain on penalties before taking down Portugal to continue their extraordinary run.

They will once again be up against European giants in their bid to rewrite history, taking on France or England, who play later, on Wednesday for a place in the final.

“The message I’m trying to get to the players is to be confident, go out there and give everything, and have no regrets. And they believed me,” Regragui said.

“Of course it’s great to come to the World Cup, to play those three group stage games. We have elite players, and we have a team that can win games at the World Cup. Sometimes you exaggerate things, but they actually believed it and they’ve now shown that they are capable of performing at this level.”

Goalkeeper Yassine Bounou added: “As our coach said, we’re here to change the mentality. This feeling of inferiority, we need to get rid of it… The generation coming after us will now know that Moroccan players can create miracles.”

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