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Morocco talks of a new world order through their football | Football News – Times of India


DOHA: The idea of ‘blue blood’, that once mostly ready and deluded symbol of racial superiority, was born when pale-skinned Spanish nobility would compare their veins to the darker-skinned Moors, nomadic invaders from north Africa.
Something on similar lines is playing out at the World Cup in Qatar here. Only this time, that notion will be turned on its head, promise football’s latest outliers.
When Morocco’s manager Walid Regragui speaks to us of his country and his land, Africa’s fervent desire, he is speaking for ages of inequality, on the football field and off it. He is talking of respect, of belonging and wanting to be accepted. “Tomorrow, we will run, there won’t be any fatigue. We have a huge chance. I don’t want to waste it and wait another 40 years to discuss an African team at a press conference. This is our time.”
This time, the blue bloods of world football, Les Bleus themselves, defending champions of the world game, former colonial masters of the north Africans, will encounter this new, different form of rising. France would be painfully aware that the team they meet in Wednesday’s semifinal, have knocked out Spain, fellow former colonial master, Portugal, an old rival in the ancient Iberian geo-sphere, to be here, a rightful claimant to their crown.
It would all sit uneasily though. France are known to famously slip up before their former colonies on the world stage. In 2002, then as defending champions again they were humbled by Senegal in the opening game of the World Cup. The sight of the Senegalese dancing around goalscorer Papa Diop’s shirt laid carefully by the corner flag, like some ancient pagan ritual and with the rest of the world participating, immediately became one of the most defining images of the equalizing power of football.
On Tuesday, Didier Deschamps would choose his words carefully, the current World Cup generation’s greatest coach would dwell mostly on football and its tired, worn-out technical jargon, his rival at the other corner of the ring, the suave, articulate 47-year-old born and raised in Corbeil-Essones, a tough neighborhood south of Paris, would speak of the larger picture, of pride, and crazy dreams. He would also speak of the “need to destroy statistics.” The message would power through.
“I am not speaking about social exclusion of our past,” he would try to clarify, but we would know he was doing just that, “We want to put Africa on the top. It is time to put Africa on the top.” It is not an empty, hollow claim.
Regragui will talk of not being tired, of hunger. Of frightening unity.
“I hope they are hungry,” he would say of his team. “That is what I asked them in the huddle after the Portugal game: ‘How hungry are you, still?’. Because if you’re not, before a semifinal, then that’s a problem. Not everyone is lucky to play in a semi-final.
“I think our greatest strength is that we have a great team spirit, we are ready to rewrite the history books. We need to be very strong in order to progress, and I know we aren’t the favorites. We still want to go further and everyone might think we’re tired, but you can’t be that here.”
Laying down the changed rules for a new order of football, the Moroccan coach would talk of his country’s fans, the support, the presence of mothers, brothers and wives in their camp. Then he would talk of ‘Niyyah’. No, he would invoke it, Intention in the Arabic tongue, that essential prerequisite for performing any form of good deed. Then he would tell the European journalists to go look it up in the dictionaries.
Morocco was always at the World Cup, it always ended slipping under the radar. This time, Regragui is promising it will be different. He has been delivering. “I was from a difficult neighborhood in France, and I had to fight more than other people. If it can help me, it would be great. Perhaps, it could make me hungrier. But I’m here also because I’m a good coach,” he would point out, insisting that they belong here at the highest stage, “My mission is the World Cup. We’re not here to kid around or go through the motions. We are going to go deep tomorrow.”
“I want to change that mentality that we are easily satisfied. We want to reach the final, not be happy just by reaching the semifinals. We are ready to give everything and pull off an upset like we’ve done here before. We’re focused. We have tremendous energy to drive us. When you have the support of the crowd, you want to go further.”
He would also talk about football. “Guardiola was my hero too once,” he would tell us, “The Europeans don’t like us because we don’t play like they want. You love the statistics of football more, but there isn’t just one way of playing. Those days are over when African teams were playing with gusto and entertained you with their flair. We want to win. I don’t care about expected goals or possession. We had no chance of winning the World Cup at the outset, but we are going to destroy those statistics tomorrow. Now as the best four teams in the world, what are our chances? Twelve percent, yes? We are going to try to do more.”
Then he would talk about the innate unifying power of football. “You know, the beauty of football? That everyone has their own opinions on it. Everyone has their view of football, we have ours. Sometimes it isn’t the best team that wins the match. That’s why football is so popular, the best game. Football brings people together, it’s a galvanizing force. It should be like a festival tomorrow, you should see it as a celebration. If we don’t win, we will be behind French and support them in the final.”





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