Walid Regragui hopes Morocco’s performance at the World Cup is showing why Arab coaches should get top jobs in Europe, which is “impossible” right now.
Regragui was only appointed as Morocco head coach at the end of August.
Since then, the Atlas Lions are unbeaten, conceding only an own goal against Canada and reaching the quarter-finals at Qatar 2022.
Regragui’s short stint has included an upset win over Belgium and a penalty shoot-out success against highly-fancied Spain in the last 16.
Morocco are the first Arab team and fourth African side to make the last eight at a World Cup, prompting discussion of interest in Regragui’s services.
But the coach explained the battle he had faced just to get this job, let alone taking over at Manchester City or Barcelona.
“This question is probably best asked to European clubs: why don’t they hire Arab coaches? Maybe it’s a cultural question, maybe it’s a mentality aspect,” he said.
“Today I think it’s impossible Manchester City or Barcelona bring an Arab coach. They don’t think about it, as if we’re not worthy, as if we’re not capable.
“But there’s moments in history that make people change their mind. It’s on us, the Arab and African people, to show we are ready.”
Having spent much of his coaching career with clubs in Morocco, Regragui added: “Ten years I am a coach, nobody looked at me. ‘No, it is impossible, he does not have the experience. Let’s look at somebody else’.
“I’m in the quarter-final. Explain this miracle.
“Experience doesn’t matter. It’s skills. It doesn’t matter your background, where you’re from; skills matter. If you’re not worthy, you don’t have the skills, you can leave.”
1 – Morocco coach Walid Regragui has become the first ever African manager to reach the World Cup quarter-finals. Pioneer.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean)
Perhaps Morocco’s style of play could be an obstacle to Regragui’s progress, with only Costa Rica (30.2 per cent) having a smaller average share of possession at the tournament than their 32.3 per cent.
But Regragui made no apologies for Morocco’s approach as they stifled Spain, who dominated 76.8 per cent of the play in the previous round but had only one shot on target in 120 minutes.
Highlighting other examples of Spain – with the highest possession share at the finals (77.0 per cent) – bossing proceedings against elite sides, Regragui wondered if critics would rather Morocco had bravely lost.
He asked: “Why do Morocco need to keep the ball? Why do African teams need to play very well and lose after and cry?”
But now, against Portugal in Saturday’s quarter-final, Regragui feels huge support for his side.
“We want to show Africa deserves to be here, Morocco deserves to be here, football is global,” he said.
“We have a federation behind us, a whole people behind us, a whole continent behind us. We have the Arab world. That’s a lot of people. That’s what we’re going to draw from.”