The tactic and spirit of Morocco were praised by AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho, who also singled out midfielder Azzedine Ounahi for special praise.
Morocco beat Mourinho’s home country Portugal 1-0 to qualify for a historic World Cup quarter-final on Saturday having put up a spirited display, leaving the former Chelsea and Manchester United manager impressed.
Jose Mourinho’s comment on Morocco
“When I saw the game [against Portugal] starting and the team without [Noussair] Mazraoui and [Nayef] Aguerd, I thought problems to Morocco but it was not a problem,” said Mourinho.
“When I saw [Romain] Saiss in the beginning of the second half, their captain their leader, the centre-back, a crucial position in that kind of match, when I saw him leave also injured, I thought big problems for them but it was not a problem.
“The coach organised the team very well, starting with 4-3-3, he was able to change during the game to 5-4-1. He saw the danger, he saw Portugal accumulating lots of players in finishing areas and he found a way to control the game.
“They have individuals, [Yassine] Bounou was an individual during the competition and in this game was the same, [Sofyan] Amrabat, I know him from Italian football, very good player but their No.8, the young boy that plays in France in Angers, Ounahi was absolutely incredible. So, they have players, a coach and an incredible spirit.”
Morocco has surprised everyone at the tournament thanks to their resiliency and tenacity, making it to the semi-final after holding off Croatia, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal while only giving up one goal—an own goal against Canada.
Although the Atlas Lions have excellent talent, coach Walid Regragui has won praise for his precise tactical decisions, which have made them difficult to beat in all of their games.
Mourinho is the second coach to single out midfielder Ounahi for praise after former Spain coach Luis Enrique praised him for making life difficult for his team in the Round of 16. Ounahi has been one of their top performers and Mourinho is now the second coach to do so.
Morroco’s next fixture
Morocco hopes to continue their fairytale run by making it to the finals when they face France in the semi-final on Wednesday.