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Football Reporting


We should dream of winning 2022 World Cup

DOHA, Qatar — Morocco manager Walid Regragui said the team are aiming for the sky and should be allowed to dream of winning the World Cup after they topped Group F with a 2-1 victory over Canada.

The hard fought win over Canada saw Morocco finish the group stage with seven points from their three matches — a record that included a 0-0 draw with Croatia and a 2-0 win over Belgium.

Regragui was beyond delighted with his team’s form, and when asked if his team can go on and win the competition he said they’ve earned the right to be in contention.

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“We set ourselves an objective — we wanted to give everything to get out of the group stages,” Regragui said. “We’re aiming for the sky, we’re not going to stop here, but we’re going to be a difficult team to beat, so why not dream about winning the trophy?

“We need African teams to set this objective. We’re taking it one game at a time, we’re not getting carried away, but if we’re fighting fit, we stand a great chance of progressing.”

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Regragui was also delighted with star man Achraf Hakimi’s performance. Hakimi played through pain as he continues managing a thigh injury but was instrumental in Morocco’s triumph as he assisted Youssef En-Nesyri’s first-half goal.

That 23rd minute strike gave Morocco a 2-0 lead after Hakim Ziyech opened the scoring after just four minutes as he profited from a Canadian goalkeeping error to score from 35 yards. Canada would score, though, on the stroke of half-time with Nayef Aguerd turning the ball into his own net.

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“First half was one of the best performances we’ve had in a long time,” Regragui said. “It was too bad we had that own goal as that shook us a little bit. I loved that second half as that was the spirit I was looking for and despite the pressure, the players were there.

“Look at Hakimi — he played injured to the very last minute, all Moroccans should praise him every day.”

Hakimi was exceptional at right back, and was emotional at the full-time whistle. He said being part of a Morocco team reaching the knockout stages of a World Cup for the first time since 1986 was beyond his wildest dreams.

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“We are so happy with the qualification. We did an amazing job,” Hakimi said.

“I want to congratulate the team. It’s a family — we have a good mentality. It’s time to do good things with this generation. We deserve history and today we made history. I am proud to play for Morocco. To do something big for your country, is amazing.”

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