The world’s biggest party took place at Education City stadium in Doha on Tuesday night when Morocco upset Spain in the 2022 FIFA World Cup round of 16.
Most of the 44,000-strong crowd was overwhelmed by emotion after Morocco defender Achraf Hakimi sealed victory with a cheeky panenka penalty kick.
Moroccans poured out into the streets of Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakesh, and practically every capital city in Western Europe to celebrate.
Even King Mohamed VI joined the jubilant crowds.
After the team danced, hugged, and cried in the dressing room, coach Walid Regragui made an extremely important declaration in his post-match press conference.
“At some point in Africa, we have to be ambitious and why not win the World Cup, even if it’s going to be hard,” he said.
The declaration was a sign of a paradigm shift in how African nations approach the World Cup, and it is fitting that it came from Regragui, who represents a paradigm-shift in African coaching.
Not only did he cut his teeth on the continent, spending his formative years coaching domestic football in Morocco, he is also part of the inaugural CAF Pro Licence class of 2018 – the very first group of coaches who secured football’s highest coaching diploma entirely on the continent.
He represents everything that is right in African football: He’s young, competent, cosmopolitan, fearless and a pan-Africanist at heart.
Senegal’s Aliou Cissé, Algeria’s Djamel Belmadi, Tunisia’s Radhi Jaidi and South Africa’s Benni McCarthy are other examples of the new African coaching prototype.
It is no coincidence that the 2022 World Cup was the first time all five African nations had African coaches to lead them.
But is Regragui right? Should Africa be asking itself if it can win a World Cup?
Three Asian sides qualified for the knockout stages this year, and the Qatar World Cup has been, by far, the most successful tournament ever on the pitch.
Author: Sports Reporter