The difficult mission of Regragui, successor of "coach Vahid" in Morocco

A difficult mission awaits the new coach of Morocco, Walid Regragui: to find benchmarks after only three months in office, and to forget Vahid Halilhodzic, ousted just before the World Cup-2022.

His goal ? May the Atlas Lions reach the first quarter-final in their history at the World Cup.

Haloed by a flamboyant season at the head of Wydad Casablanca (WAC), champion of Africa and Morocco in title, the experienced coach will try to breathe a similar dynamic into the national team.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity for an ex-player like me, who has worn the team jersey more than forty times,” said Walid Regragui in an interview broadcast by Canal+, saying he was ready “to take up the challenges”.

The challenge is daunting, but the pugnacious 40-year-old with a bald head is renowned for his strong personality, his tenacity and a winning mentality.

He is the first Moroccan national coach since 2016, succeeding Franco-Bosnian Halilhodzic (2019-2022) and Frenchman Hervé Renard (2016-2019).

“Lions, not sheep”

His arrival at the end of August allowed the return of star Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea) who had previously announced his international retirement against a background of falling out with “coach Vahid”.

“He’s a player who loves his country and he proved it from the start by choosing to defend the colors of Morocco”, justified the new Moroccan coach a few weeks ago. “I prefer players with character. You can’t win anything with sheep, you need lions”.

After making his debut as coach of Fath Union Sport (FUS) between 2014 and 2020, the Rabat club which he led to its first national title in 2016, Regragui spent a few months with the Qatari club Al- Duhail before joining Wydad Casablanca a year ago.

Since then, the former Moroccan defender, who has French nationality, has managed to pocket the last African Champions League (CAF) with Wydad, at the expense of the great Egyptian rival Al-Ahly (2-0), and to keep his crown of champion of Morocco in 2022.

Born in Corbeil-Essonne, in the suburbs of Paris, to parents from Fnideq (northern Morocco), he began his sporting career late in life, in 1998 with the Racing Club de France (RCF), then in National.

At the same time, he wanted to fulfill his father’s dream by obtaining a university degree in economics and social sciences.

He then distinguished himself in Toulouse (1999-2001) then Ajaccio (2001-2004).

His performances earned him a call to the Moroccan national team, with which he played 45 matches and one African Cup final in 2004, lost against Tunisia.

After this remarkable CAN, the elegant right-back joined Racing de Santander in Spain for two seasons, before returning to France to play in Dijon and Grenoble and then hanging up his crampons.

He then considered a career as a coach and started as assistant coach of the Lions Rachid Taoussi in 2013.

In the following years, Walid Regragui won the Throne Cup (the Moroccan Cup) in 2014 then the championship in 2016 with FUS, breaking the hegemony of the two Casablancan giants, Raja and Wydad.

Offensive Style

He thus became one of the most courted Moroccan coaches of his generation, appreciated for his attacking style – Halilhodzic was criticized for playing too closed – which conquered the supporters of the “Reds”.

The coach also seduces with his caustic verve and unfiltered remarks.

“I make spontaneous statements and others calculated, it’s up to journalists to distinguish them,” he laughs.

“I’m not interested in the reactions my words provoke. I work with dedication and when I express myself, I do so sincerely,” he says again.

At the head of the Atlas Lions, Regragui will have to carry the expectations of an entire football fanatic nation.

And try to do better than the Moroccan selection of 1986, the first African team in history to reach the round of 16 of the World Cup.

Qatar 2022, get through the group stage

In an interview with, Walid Regragui assured that “Success is passing the first round, we haven’t done that since 1986, especially in a strong group. So we will fight, but we can’t make promises, the only thing I promise is that we will fight and we will be competitive..

We will have a plan for each match. We want to make our country proud and we will try to win as many matches as possible. We are an ambitious team,” he added.

According to the Atlas Lions coach, the national team is full of high quality players, who form a good group. “We are lucky to have a great team and to have players who play for big clubs. The Moroccan people can now be proud to have national team players in the Champions League and in big clubs like Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain”underlined the national technician.

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