Morocco head coach Walid Regragui has broken his silence after his team unexpectedly crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in the knockout phase.
In a passionate message to Moroccan fans, Regragui believes the team had all it takes to win the 34th edition of the continental showpiece but fell short.
“I felt we were capable of bringing this cup home, but that did not happen. We fought until the end with our weapons. I am disappointed for our supporters who deserved much better,” he said.
Morocco entered the tournament as heavy favourites, especially after reaching the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup by defeating Spain and Portugal in the last 16 and quarters, respectively.
Making their 19th appearance at the AFCON finals, Morocco was Africa’s number-one ranked team by FIFA and 13th in the world. They aimed to win their first AFCON title since 1976—their only triumph.
The Atlas Lions had a smooth ride in Group F, conceding only one goal in three matches and advancing to the last 16 as group winners. They won their opener 3-0 against Tanzania, drew 1-1 with DRC, and sent Zambia home with a 1-0 win.
In the last 16, Morocco faced South Africa. Bafana Bafana finished second in Group E behind Mali, winning one group match, losing another, and drawing the third.
The Atlas Lions were defeated 2-0 by South Africa at the Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro city, thanks to second-half goals from Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena.
The Moroccans also missed a penalty that could have drawn them level in the penultimate stages of the game, as Achraf Hakimi blasted the ball onto the bar before losing Sofyan Amrabat to a red card moments later.