Fifa World Cup: Morocco determined to win 'worst game' they have to play

Croatia have a lot of respect for the Moroccan team, says coach Zlatko Dalic

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Published: Sat 17 Dec 2022, 5:46 PM

Morocco's Atlas Lions — whose World Cup run made the Arab world proud — have set their sights on a podium finish, even though tonight's match against Croatia was the 'worst game' they have to play.

The team made history as the first African and Arab country to reach the World Cup semi-final but the dream run ended as they went head to head with France. The heartbreaking loss dampened spirits, but coach Walid Regragui said they are determined to beat Croatia in the third-place playoff tonight.

"I guess it is the worst game that we have to play," Regragui told the media at a Press conference on Friday.

"Obviously, we would have liked things to be different. We would like to have been in the actual final but there is a third place to play for. We want to be on the podium."

The team is trying to be "as positive as possible" for their supporters, he added.

Morocco, punching above their weight, beat Belgium and Canada in the group stage before eliminating 2010 world champions Spain on penalties in the last 16 and then beating 2016 European champions Portugal in the quarter-finals.

Morocco's dream run ended in the last four against France, who had beaten surprise finalists Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final.


Croatia, on the other hand, prepared well for the "huge match" tonight, said coach Zlatko Dalic, who said Morocco's World Cup performance this year was similar to their team's run four years ago.

"Morocco resemble us from four years ago. No one expected them to reach this stage," Dalic said. "They deserve to be here. They will be a more challenging opponent than in the first match."

"They have grown in self-confidence and are motivated. For both it is a huge and major match."

Croatia and Morocco had drawn 0-0 in the group stage before both advanced to the knockout stage.

"For us it is a major match. We have a lot of respect for the Moroccan team. I think they have the same mindset as us. It is a huge match for them as well. They will come up with a major lineup."

(With inputs from Reuters)


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