Halihodzic explains reasons for AFCON quarterfinals loss to Egypt

Mahmoud Sheleib , Thursday 3 Feb 2022

Morocco national team coach Vahid Halilhodzic listed the reasons for their quarterfinals loss to Egypt in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), in a press conference held on Thursday at the headquarters of the Moroccan Football Association.

Vahid Halilhodzic
Morocco s Bosnian head coach Vahid Halilhodzic attends a press conference in Rabat on Febuary 3, 2022. AFP

The 69-year-old Bosnian coach admitted that their lack of experience relative to seven-time champion Pharaohs was one of the main reasons for their loss, but at the same time he criticised the Egyptians’ behavior during the game.

“The game witnessed cheating and excessive aggression from the Egyptian side in the pitch. The Egyptian team has mastered these things since ancient times, did you see how many times their goalkeeper fell during the match?” said Halihodzic.

“Also, the referee’s arbitration shocked me; many Egyptian players should have been sent off with direct red cards during the game,” he added.

Halihodzic admitted that he knows that the Moroccan fans were frustrated after their AFCON exit, but he urged the fans not to be very tough in their criticism towards the players and the technical team.

“Maybe this African championship [ended] early for this Moroccan team because it is a young team and has ten more years to make achievements. I am optimistic about the future of the Moroccan national team,” the Bosnian coach told press conference.

The Moroccan national team have faced a severe wave of domestic criticism following their elimination from the AFCON, and there were calls to sack the Bosnian coach, who fired back during the press conference.

“Leaving? I can leave by myself and I have done that before with other national teams, but I won’t leave because of one defeat. I do not understand the calls to sack me because of that defeat; let me work on qualifying the team for the World Cup,” he added.

"It is possible that the coach chooses the wrong formation, but he does not realise that until the match ends. Change the formation every game? We always win; I was deprived of three main strikers.”

"Not relying on the players of the Moroccan league? If they are better, why not, Sofiane Rahimi was playing in the local league and Achraf Bencharki also,” he concluded.

The Moroccan national team will be preparing now for the crucial home and away games against the DR Congo scheduled for 23, 29 March in the final round of the African qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

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