Morocco’s Regragui assumes responsibility for AFCON exit vowing strong comeback

Ahram Online , Wednesday 31 Jan 2024

Morocco's head coach Walid Regragui has expressed deep disappointment following the elimination of the Atlas Lions from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023), assuming full responsibility for the team's performance and vowing a strong comeback.

Morocco s coach Walid Regragui (R) and Morocco s defender #2 Achraf Hakimi (L) react after their loss in the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 round of 16 football match between Morocco and South Africa at the Stade Laurent Pokou in San Pedro. Photo: AP


Despite being tipped as favourites to win the tournament after their impressive performance in Qatar as 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists, the 1976 champions fell short once again. They suffered a 2-0 defeat to South Africa in their last-16 clash on Tuesday night, missing a penalty as goals from Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena sealed their fate.

After the match, Regragui took full responsibility, stating that the team would bounce back strongly.

“We made many technical errors and lacked patience in the buildup play. We were in a lot of rush and had few opportunities,” Regragui explained after the game.

“The match could have been decided in the first half, but at this level, every missed opportunity is immediately punished," he added.

“We tried in the end and were awarded a penalty, but we missed it. It could have equalized the score and brought us back into the game, but the penalty miss hurt us greatly. Certainly, we did not do what was required, and we lacked some things. I take full responsibility,” he admitted.

“The players gave everything and executed the instructions, and we will learn from the unexpected failure. We came with great humility, but today we must accept that we failed in our mission," he further remarked. 

The 48-year-old coach expressed his understanding of the disappointment felt by the team's fans, acknowledging their unwavering support throughout the tournament: “It’s a great disappointment for our fans who supported us in the tournament and helped us a lot, and today, this failure is mine to bear as a coach,” he concluded.

Regragui will return home to start preparations ahead of the next tournament, which will be hosted by the North African nation.

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