Morocco coach Walid Regragui: We can do anything after Belgium World Cup win

A point in their final Group F assignment against already-eliminated Canada on Thursday will see Morocco reach the knockout round of a World Cup for the first time since 1986

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Morocco coach Walid Regragui said his team can improve on their 2-0 win over Belgium and that they "can do anything" at the World Cup.

A point in their final Group F assignment against already-eliminated Canada on Thursday will see Morocco reach the knockout round of a World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Goals from Romain Saiss and Zakaria Aboukhlal at Al Thumama Stadium secured Morocco their first World Cup win in 24 years on Sunday as the energetic North Africans made Belgium, ranked second in the world by Fifa, look pedestrian.

"We know if you don't give 100 percent it's impossible to win," Regragui told a press conference. "But with these fans, with these players and this spirit we can do anything.

"The competition is not over, we have to recover quickly for the game against Canada. Hopefully we can get a good result for the qualification."

Riots broke out in several Belgian and Dutch cities after Morocco’s upset win as Belgian police detained about a dozen people after they deployed water cannons and fire tear gas to disperse crowds in Brussels and eight more in the Northern city of Antwerp, the Associated Press reported.

Two police officials were injured in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam. By late evening Sunday, an uneasy calm had returned to most of the cities involved.

All five African teams were dumped out in the group stage in Russia four years ago but Morocco joined continental Senegal in winning their second match in Qatar.

The Atlas Lions sit top of the group on four points, having also held 2018 runners-up Croatia to a goalless draw.

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"We can still be better," said Regragui, who only took over as coach from the sacked Vahid Halilhodzic in August. "I'm not happy with four points, I want more than that. I want to qualify.

"Of course it will be tougher if we get to the knockout stage but that's the level I want to get to. We've matched two of the best teams in the world."

The game started in bizarre fashion for Morocco, with goalkeeper Yassine Bounou asking to be withdrawn from the team after the national anthems.

Regragui said the Sevilla stopper had suffered an injury towards the end of Croatia game and felt something in the warm-up.

Munir El Kajoui took his place and made some crucial saves to keep a clean sheet.

"Munir did a great job. I have great players. They listen to the instructions and they fight with all of their heart," added Regragui. "Keep focused, keep positive and we will get great results."

Morocco's Romain Saiss, right, reacts after scoring to make it 1-0 against Belgium. AP Photo

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was at a loss to explain why his side have been so poor in their opening two matches of the World Cup, but put Sunday’s surprise loss to Morocco down to a fear of losing and not enough quality in their attack.

Belgium stumbled past Canada 1-0 in their Group F opener and were below par again as they slipped to defeat against a spirited Moroccan side roared on by the majority of the 43,000 fans.

The setback leaves Belgium needing to beat group leaders Croatia in their final match to guarantee a place in the last-16

"We haven't been the best Belgium at this World Cup yet," he admitted. "Today I thought we played with the fear of losing. Without the ball we still work for each other but when we have the ball, we don't stand out, we are not ourselves. We have to work on that.

"We have to stay together now and become stronger. I know this group, we will be ready for Croatia."

The first goal scored by Saiss slipped in at goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’s near post, a collective error in defending a set-piece, but Martinez said that did not point to a lack of organisation.

"We didn't take advantage of our good moments in the first half and that first goal from Morocco determined the rest of the game," he said.

"We have been defending those standard situations in the same way for six years [since he has been in charge]. If the ball is kicked well, those are very difficult balls for a keeper.

"After the goal, the game changed radically and we were not careful enough with the ball to hurt Morocco."

Updated: November 28, 2022, 7:11 AM