About two months before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the new national coach, Walid Regragui, seems to want to capitalize on the achievements, while having a penchant for trying new things, a challenge that is well illustrated in his list for both friendly matches against Chile and Paraguay, revealed on Monday.
Indeed, this extended list of 31 players includes regulars of the selection under the leadership of Vahid Halilhodžić, Regragui’s predecessor in this position, but also ghosts, such as Hakim Ziyech and Younes Belhanda, a newcomer, in this case Walid Cheddira who plays for the Italian club Bari (Serie B) and five players who play for the Botola Pro D1 and represent the clubs of Wydad and Raja Casablanca in addition to RS Berkane.
“I have drawn up a list of 31 players to be able to observe as many elements as possible before the World Cup to be able to gauge their level and determine who deserves to defend the national colors,” Regragui told a press conference held. at the Mohammed VI football complex in Maâmora.
The objective is also to have information on the maximum number of players in different positions to be able to find the right alternatives in the event of last minute unavailability, explained Regragui, who affirms that he wants to keep the backbone of the group which has punched the ticket to the World Cup and relied on experience while trying out new players.
“We have been careful not to change the group significantly because there is not much time left for the World Cup. Now it’s up to us to detect the players who are in good shape and those who are able to bring more,” he said, adding that this list is not definitive.
“Some players who are not on this list may end up taking part in the World Cup, and vice versa,” he said, adding that these choices are dictated by “the game system that I have adopted and the need to have experienced players on hand”.
Addressing his work strategy to prepare for the World Cup in such a short time, Regragui said: “We have two matches to be ready, so we will do our best to achieve this objective. We will try things, we may make mistakes. Then we will observe the players in their clubs to make up for lost time.
“Tactically, they are good level players who assimilate the instructions well. Finally, the field will remain and that is where they must help us and bring the most expected of them, ”he added.
Asked about the return of Hakim Ziyech, Regragui said that when you have a player like him, “you have to put him in the best position to help him and for his part, he must give the maximum of himself”.
“It was easy. All you had to do was ask him for him to accept. I spoke to him as a national coach. I told him that we need the best players and that he is one of them and that it is impossible to see the national team without him at the World Cup, but on condition that he is the combative and decisive player that every Moroccan hopes for. see, “said the national coach.
Regarding Abderrazak Hamdallah, Regragui remarked that he has just come back from suspension and he played a game a few days ago, adding that like him there are several players who deserve to be in the list like Fajr , Barkouk and others but “I have to make choices”.
“In this list, I didn’t want to make too many changes in the group. Likewise, we have a striker who is doing well in Bari, with four goals in five games, namely Walid Cheddira and I want to watch him closely. But overall, the door remains open to all players,” he insisted.
Regragui also said that for him players with character are an asset to any team.
“I prefer to have players with character than players who are absent on the pitch, even if they are disciplined. I believe that with sheep you gain nothing. Sometimes you have to have lions and wolves, because character players refuse defeat,” he explained.
“Then it’s up to me and the staff to supervise them and make them understand that the team comes first and if one of them crosses the lines or only thinks of themselves, there would be a problem. . But I believe that I know how to manage these kinds of situations, which must be settled in the family. The most important thing at the end of the day is that each player gives his best on the pitch,” he said.
The Atlas Lions will face, respectively, Chile on September 23 in Barcelona and Paraguay on September 27 in Seville, in anticipation of their participation in the World Cup-2022.