According to Moroccan press reports published on Monday, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has reached an agreement with Walid Regragui to take charge of the Atlas Lions. The Franco-Moroccan comes out of an exemplary season with Wydad Casablanca, crowned with an African Champions League and a Moroccan championship title.
Vahid Halilhodzic’s successor at the head of the Atlas Lions is known. According to several Moroccan media, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has hired former Wydad Casablanca coach Walid Regragui as coach for next November’s World Cup in Qatar. The contract would be for three years.
“The Federation has reached a definitive agreement with Regragui covering all the material and technical aspects, as well as the objectives to be achieved”, writes the news site Alyaoum24.
The official appointment of the new national coach is expected in the coming days, a spokesman for the federation told AFP, without further details.
Vahid Halilhodzic sacked in August
The name of Walid Regragui was circulating even before the dismissal of Vahid Halilhodzic, which occurred on August 11. The FRMF spoke of “divergent points of view (…) about the appropriate preparation of the Atlas Lions” for the World Cup, during which Morocco will face Croatia, Belgium and Morocco. Canada in Group F.
In fact, the Franco-Bosnian has mostly paid for his intransigence. Known for his strong character, he refused the federation the reinstatement of Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea) and Noussair Mazraoui (Bayern, ex-Ajax Amsterdam), two players who had in the past declined a selection.
Trophies everywhere he went
Born in Corbeil-Essonnes, near Paris, Walid Regragui, a 46-year-old Franco-Moroccan, had a long career as a player before becoming a coach. He tasted the professional world quite late, discovering the National at the age of 23 at the Racing Club de France. This training right side then joined Toulouse with which he moved up to Ligue 1. He then went on to experience in France (Ajaccio, Dijon, Grenoble), supplemented by a freelance in Spain at Racing Santander.
His performances earned him a call to the Atlas Lions in 2001. With Morocco, he notably played in the CAN-2004 final against Tunisia and won the title of best defender in the competition. When he retired from international football in 2009, he can boast of having played 45 matches with the Moroccans. Above all, he earned a reputation as a facilitator in the group, capable of making the link between the older generation, often trained in Morocco, and the young dual nationals. A quality that should serve him during his current mandate.
Walid Regragui ended his playing career in 2011. The following year, he joined the bench of the Moroccan selection with an assistant position (2012-2013). He then won trophies in each of the clubs where he went: a Throne Cup (2015) and a Moroccan championship (2016) with FUS Rabat, a Qatar championship with Al-Duhail (2020). During the past year, he signed a brilliant double with Wydad Casablanca: African Champions League and Moroccan championship. Despite this record, he announced his departure in early August, sparking speculation about his arrival at the helm of Morocco even before the formalization of the departure of “Coach Vahid”.
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“Like other dual nationals trained in France, he had to go back to his roots to have a chance. But [à l’inverse de] Belmadi with Algeria and Cissé with Senegal, he arrives in selection with a big club background. He has proven himself everywhere he has gone,” said Moroccan journalist Samy Mojtabi in Le Parisien.
For the first time in history, the five African teams that will compete in the World Cup in Qatar will have a “local” on their bench: Rigobert Song for Cameroon, Jalel Kadri for Tunisia, Aliou Cissé for Senegal, Otto Addo for Ghana and finally Walid Regragui for Morocco. The era of “white wizards” now seems to be over in Africa.
🚨 The formalization of the recruitment of Walid Regragui as coach of the Atlas lions puts at 5 the number of African technicians at the head of the 5 selections that will represent the African continent at the next world.
Is this the end of the era of “white wizards”?? pic.twitter.com/sJeOfS3WhG
— LNzie🇨🇲 (@l_nzie) August 22, 2022