In the streets of Doha, you now not spot the canary yellow of Brazil.
The blue-and-white stripes of Argentina, nonetheless there within the event, are additionally misplaced within the pink of Morocco as if a bottle of Heinz (ketch-up) has been upended over the town.
Morocco, the “Rocky of this World Cup,” as coach Walid Regragui calls his group, has already created historical past in a historic first World Cup within the Arab area.
Winning is what issues, profitable for Africa, profitable for our folks, profitable to indicate our neighbours, Egypt, Libya, that we will do it.
— Morocco head coach Walid Regragoui earlier than the semifinal
It is the primary group from Africa to make it to the semi-finals in 92 years of attempting.
Its supporters are in every single place – the Moroccan shirts, flags and scarves are a shortage as shopkeepers within the Souq marvel what to do with the leftover Brazil and England jerseys.
Regragui’s group has defied each prediction to be right here (besides these of Samuel Eto’o and Sunday Oliseh) because it began the event with odds of 200/1.
But now, a step away from the ultimate, its defence is but to be breached by an opposition striker.
The solely purpose it has conceded got here from its personal defender’s deflection in a 2-1 win over Canada, one of many hosts of the subsequent version of the event.
France supervisor Didier Deschamps, trying to attain back-to-back World Cup finals, acknowledged the compactness of its opponent on Thursday.
“Morocco has the ability to defend very well. But it also has offensive qualities to win games, otherwise, it wouldn’t be here.
But it’s the team that defended the best with a very good organisation. My observers have seen all the games and there are things to consider. Our objective will be to create difficulties for them and find a way to score,” he stated.
But Morocco is not only defence minded.
Regragui’s facet, regardless of ceding possession – Morocco, on common, has loved 32.4 per cent possession in its 5 video games – has utilised the dribbling abilities and velocity of its wingers Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal to run one of the spectacular counter-attacking models.
Morocco’s 13 pictures on purpose and 5 targets are the bottom among the many 4 semi-finalists, however alongside Croatia, it’s the solely undefeated group left within the event.
“We are still hungry, and a lot,” Regragui stated about his group’s desires in his pre-match press convention.
“France will not want us to have the ball, because they need it. We need three or four chances, score the goal and knock out the opponent. France was not spectacular against England, but they were effective.
If we have 12 percent possession of the ball, but we are effective, it doesn’t matter. Winning is what matters, winning for Africa, winning for our people, winning to show our neighbours, Egypt, Libya, that we can do it.”
Deschamps’s France, too, has defied the standard notion of ball possession and checked out defensive stability to outlast opponents.
Against England, it had 42 p.c possession however was devastating with its wing play and was medical with the possibilities that got here its manner.
Deschamps, nevertheless, expects the sport in opposition to Morocco to be totally different.
“We want to have the ball to create danger, but you saw that in our game against Poland (in the last 16) they actually had it more than expected,” he stated.
“We’re as good as Morocco on the break and on fast attacks. We won’t abandon possession, but when we have the ball, we’re going to have to make it count.”
Didier Deschamps (R), after profitable the World Cup each as a participant and a coach, will hope to take his group to a 3rd World Cup ultimate with him a part of the contingent.
| Photo Credit: Getty Images
Kylian Mbappe, the main scorer of the World Cup with 5 strikes, will likely be up in opposition to Achraf Hakimi, who has been the standout right-back right here, whereas Yahia Attiyat has completed splendidly nicely on the left.
But the absence of skipper Romain Saiss, who – in tears – was stretchered out in opposition to Portugal, may trigger an issue for the Atlas Lions in opposition to the guile and positioning of Oliver Giroud.
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But most within the 68,895-seater Al Bayt Stadium and the streets of Doha would love the Moroccan underdogs to proceed their Hollywood feel-good story in opposition to their outdated colonisers.