Walid Regragui makes history as Morocco’s run to World Cup quarter-finals sparks wild celebrations

Within just 100 days as Morocco’s manager, Walid Regragui has made history.

The 47-year-old has guided his country to the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time ever.

They are only the fourth African team, and the first Arab nation, to reach the last eight, after Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

But Regragui is the first African manager to lead a team to this stage, after they knocked out Spain on penalties.

Regragui replaced Vahid Halilhodzic as Morocco boss only in September. In that time, though, he has united a squad that has 14 players who qualify to play for the team via Moroccan ancestry, having been born elsewhere.

The manager was himself born in France, but last night described his team as “a family, a united team”.

“Sometimes people, including some journalists in this room, said, ‘These guys don’t love Morocco. Why not play with the guys born in Morocco?’,” he said. “We showed the world that every Moroccan is Moroccan. When he comes with the national team, he wants to die, wants to fight.”

Moroccan celebrations spread far and wide last night, with jubilant scenes in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Barcelona.

The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, joined the parties on the streets back home and called Regragui to congratulate him.

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar | Best Images and Moments

Morocco’s Achraf Dari with Walid Cheddira and teammates celebrate after the match as Morocco progress to the semi finals (REUTERS)
Morocco’s Achraf Dari with Walid Cheddira and teammates celebrate after the match as Morocco progress to the semi finals (REUTERS)
Portugal’s forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final (AFP via Getty Images)
Portugal’s forward #07 Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final (AFP via Getty Images)
Argentina players celebrate after they won on penalty shoot-out the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final (AFP via Getty Images)
Argentina players celebrate after they won on penalty shoot-out the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final (AFP via Getty Images)
Brazil’s forward #10 Neymar (R) si consoled by Brazil’s forward #11 Raphinha after their team lost the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final (AFP via Getty Images)
Brazil’s forward #10 Neymar (R) si consoled by Brazil’s forward #11 Raphinha after their team lost the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-final (AFP via Getty Images)
Morocco players lift up goalkeeper Bono after beating Spain on penalties to reach the quarter-finals for the first time (REUTERS)
Morocco players lift up goalkeeper Bono after beating Spain on penalties to reach the quarter-finals for the first time (REUTERS)
Goncalo Ramos celebrates a hat-trick for Portugal in the last-16 (REUTERS)
Goncalo Ramos celebrates a hat-trick for Portugal in the last-16 (REUTERS)
Brazil players make tribute to Pele after reports of his ill health (AFP via Getty Images)
Brazil players make tribute to Pele after reports of his ill health (AFP via Getty Images)
Croatia defeat Japan in the first penalty shootout of the 2022 World Cup (Getty Images)
Croatia defeat Japan in the first penalty shootout of the 2022 World Cup (Getty Images)
Jude Bellingham relaxes after his star dislay against Senegal (The FA via Getty Images)
Jude Bellingham relaxes after his star dislay against Senegal (The FA via Getty Images)
Aziz Behich comes within inches of completing an unlikely Australia comeback against Argentina in the last-16 (Getty Images)
Aziz Behich comes within inches of completing an unlikely Australia comeback against Argentina in the last-16 (Getty Images)
Vincent Aboubakar celebrates a famous winner for Cameroon against Brazil (AFP via Getty Images)
Vincent Aboubakar celebrates a famous winner for Cameroon against Brazil (AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s extraordinary for a Moroccan to receive that call,” Regragui said. “He always encourages us and he gives us advice and he calls on us to give our all. His message is always the same, he is proud of the players and he is proud of us and, as a result, we want to go even further and do even better the next time.”

No one can accuse Morocco of taking the easy route. They topped a group that included 2018 runners-up Croatia and the second-highest ranked team in the world, in Belgium. They have eliminated 2010 winners Spain and the only goal they have conceded in their four games came when their defender Nayef Aguerd scored an own goal.

They have momentum and Arab support in Qatar behind them and believe they can beat Portugal in their quarter-final today.