Walid Regragui is targeting a history-making victory over Spain as he insisted his Morocco team have put any negativity behind them.
Morocco have been one of the surprise packages of the World Cup in Qatar, with the Atlas Lions shocking Belgium on their way to winning Group F, which also included 2018 runners-up Croatia.
Regragui has done an impressive job since taking over in August, with an own goal against Canada in the group stage the only time his side have conceded during his tenure.
Morocco last reached the knockout stage of a World Cup in 1986, when they lost to West Germany.
They will have to beat a European heavyweight in the form of Spain to make the last eight for the first time in their history.
The countries met in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, with Iago Aspas’ late goal denying Morocco victory in a feisty 2-2 draw in Kaliningrad.
“Revenge? No, we’re not seeking revenge at all,” Regragui said when asked about that game. “We’re not looking at the past, we’ve got a new generation and for me the mentality has to change, the negative aspects are the old Morocco.
“It’s not the same team as in 2018, not the same Spain team as in 2018. It’s two high-level teams coming up against each other. I don’t even think we should be talking about revenge.”
Spain and Morocco have a complicated relationship, politically and socially, and asked if this was the most important game in Morocco’s history, Regragui replied: “I hope in the future there will be more important games, hopefully in the quarter-finals.
“We can’t change what happened against Germany in 1986. We’ve got 24 hours to prepare for the game, make history and be the only ones to do so in Morocco.
“We are going to give it our all and not have any regrets. We don’t want to leave the competition with regrets.”
Morocco are the only African or Arabian team left in the tournament following the elimination of Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but Regragui does not believe that adds extra pressure.
“On the contrary, we don’t have anything to lose. We will come out swinging, with a winning attitude, to hoist the Moroccan flag high,” he said.
“We want to make all Arabs and Africans happy and we want their prayers and support to give us that extra ingredient. Before it was just Moroccans, now we will add the Arabs and Africans with their support and prayers.
“There will be millions of people watching. We don’t want any regrets, we want to give the best of ourselves.
“My work is to find the balance. It’s not about doing too much to minimise that they could pull off something beautiful. We shouldn’t go out with any complex, yes we are the underdog but we should go out and play without regrets.
“We’ve united Moroccans behind this team – that’s the biggest victory we could have.”
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