Meet Walid Regragui, first African coach to qualify for World Cup quarter-finals

Head Coach Of Wydad Athletic Club Of Morocco, Walid Regragui Meet Walid Regragui, first African coach to qualify for World Cup quarter-finals

Fri, 9 Dec 2022 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

GhanaWeb Feature

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's Africa is capable of managing its own affairs statement came to full manifestation at the 2022 World Cup as for the first time in the history of the competition, Africa’s five representatives at the 2022 World Cup had no European or American as head coaches.

This inspiring development would have been termed as a catastrophic failure if none of the African countries went beyond the group phase. Fortunately for the coaches and the continent at as a whole, Morocco and Senegal made it out of the group stages and prevented what could have been a big blow to all coaches on the continent.

Morocco have become the latest African side to make history by entering the last eight of the World Cup but their success story can not be told without coach, Walid Regragui who turned the team around following their unsuccessful campaign in the AFCON.

But who is Walid Regragui?

Born on September 23, 1975, in France to Moroccan parents, Walid choose to play for the Atlas Lions in his international footballing career.

He began his footballing career with AS Corbeil-Essonnes but made his professional debut for Racing Paris FC in 1998 where he made 17 appearances and scored three goals before Toulouse came calling in the summer of 1999.

As a central defender, Walid Regragui had a fairly good run in his 13 years professional career but featured mostly for middle-table clubs in the French and Spanish League.

Walid made a total of 200 appearances in his career and scored 9 times as a central defender while playing for AS Corbeil-Essonnes, Racing Paris FC, Toulouse, Ajaccio, Racing Santander, Dijon, Grenoble, and Fleury-Mérogis where he needed his career in 2011.

National team

Walid represented Morocco on the international stage and made his debut for the Atlas Lions in 2001 and played in the 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 Africa Cup of Nations hosted in Ghana.

He made a total of 45 appearances for the Moroccan national team but didn't score a single goal before he retired in 2009.

Coaching career

Walid Regragui's coaching career began three years after his retirement in 2014 when he was appointed as the head coach Fath Union Sport (FUS), a club in the Moroccan League where he began to make a name for himself till he left by mutual consent in 2019.

In 2020, he landed a job in the Qatari League with Al-Duhail SC and that was when he caught the eyes of the big clubs in Morocco.

Walid spent just a year in the Qatari League where he played 18 games, won 11, drew 1, and lost 6 thus having a 61.11 win percentage.

On 10 August 2021, Walid Regragui got his biggest job when he was appointed as the head coach of giants, Wydad Athletic Club.

At Wydad, Walid's built an unstoppable team in both the Moroccan Batola Pro League and in the CAF Champions League.

It was only Accra Hearts of Oak's Samuel Boadu who was able to beat Wydad under Walid in the 2021/2022 CAF Champions League.

Walid Regragui led Wydad Athletic Club to their third CAF Champions League title after beating Record holders Al Ahly in the final. He also won the Moroccan Batola Pro League to make it double for the season.

He has been twice named as the best coach in the Batola League (2015 & 2022) and was also added as the best club coach at the 2022 CAF Awards.

Morocco national team

He left Wydad for a bigger challenge to handle the Atlas Lions of Morocco as the new head coach on August 31, 2022, after the sacking of Bosnian manager, Vahid Halilhodžić.

Walid took over and convinced Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech to rescind his decision to retire from the team and he has been successful since then.

He is yet to lose as a national team coach after seven games including four in the FIFA World Cup where he has played against Croatia, Belgium, and Spain.

National team record

Walid led Morocco to qualify from Group F as the group leaders. It is the first time since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico that they made it out of the group phase.

However, in 1986, Morocco missed out on becoming the first African country to reach the quarter-finals stage after losing 1-0 to West Germany in the knockout stage.

But in 2022, Morocco became the first Arabian nation and the 4th African country to reach the World Cup quarter-final stage after eliminating Spain on penalties and he is the first African manager to have achieved that.

Only Cameroon, Senegal, and Ghana had reached the quarter final stage before Morocco but they were all coached by foreigners.

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in Italy 1990 were coached by Russia's Valeri Nepomnyashchiy, Senegal went to the 2002 Japan-Korea World Cup with French coach Bruno Metsu and Serbia's Milovan Rajevac led the Black Stars of Ghana to the 2010 Mundial in South Africa.

Author: Joel Eshun

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