Walid Regragui: “The new players are integrating well into the group”


The new players called up in anticipation of the two friendly matches of the Moroccan football team against Angola and Mauritania, are integrating well into the group, assured the national coach, Walid Regragui, Thursday in Agadir.

Regragui had in fact called on 24 players, including several notable novices, such as the star of Real Madrid, Brahim Diaz, the young prodigy of the same club, Youssef Lekhedim (18 years old), the player of FC Villareal Ilias Akhomach and the AS Monaco player, Eliesse Ben Seghir, who will wear the Atlas Lions jersey for the first time during the friendly matches scheduled at the Grand Stade d'Agadir, against the Angolan selection on March 22 and the Mauritanian selection four days later late.

“Adapting to the group is going well. Some young players have already played with the Olympic team, and are already used to it. Others have friends in the team because they play against each other, like Diaz with Hakimi,” said Regragui during the pre-match press conference against Angola.

“Adaptation is not a problem. We have a group that has been going well for quite a long time, and each time there are new players, we help each other to integrate them and show them the value of wearing the national jersey,” assured the national coach.

“What I like is the dynamic that drives this team. Despite the disappointment of the CAN, there are players who want to play with the national team, that's why we have to give them time to integrate into the team. They are talented players who will be useful to us for the future,” he said.

Addressing the two friendly matches, Regragui stressed that they come after the CAN. “We are entering a new cycle by preparing for the qualifications for the next World Cup. We have chosen two matches which seem very interesting to us, with a CAN quarter-finalist and another team which reached the round of 16. It will be a good test for us, to prepare for future competitions,” he said.

Concerning injuries, he indicated that Amine Adli felt pain this week. “We will see tomorrow if we can take the risk, or save it in anticipation of Tuesday's match,” he confided.

Returning to the summons of Brahim Diaz, Regragui affirmed that “there was work underway since I took office, with the president of the Federation, for a year and a half”.

“The file was not easy. It was more a question of timing, than of choice of player,” he explained, specifying: “When I went to meet him (Diaz, Editor’s note), he was in Milan, before making an important transfer at Real Madrid. At the same time, there was an African Cup which was not easy for someone who has an axis of progression like Brahim. We must not lie to ourselves, when we choose an African team, it can play a role in a transfer. After joining Real Madrid, we got his word and he kept it.”

“He’s a great player and he shows it every weekend. We can only be delighted to have a Real Madrid player in the national team. For me, he will win the hearts of Moroccans because he preferred Morocco to Spain. In addition, it comes at a difficult time for us, after a competition in which we were not at the top, and not after the World Cup, when there was momentum,” said Regragui.

“There is also Eliesse Ben Seghir, a very promising player in France, who chose Morocco at 19, which is no small thing. He is a player who will have his say in the future. He needs time to be at the top of his level and we will support him,” underlined the national coach.

In addition to the novices and executives of the national selection, Regragui's list sees the return of the player from the Emirati club Al-Ain, Soufiane Rahimi, in good form recently.

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