LONDON - Writers at British television channel Sky Sports have added to the cacophony of voices praising the heroic leadership of Morocco national team manager Walid Regragui this World Cup.
In a round-up of the tournament published Friday, nine of twelve Sky Sports writers agreed that Regragui, who led the Atlas Lions to victories over teams held up as major contenders for the World Cup trophy, was the manager of the tournament.
"It was an almost unfathomably impressive managerial performance from Regragui to take Morocco to the World Cup semi-finals, beating Belgium, Spain and Portugal, less than four months after taking the job," sports writer Nick Wright said.
Paris-born Regragui only took on the role as manager of Morocco in August of this year, after predecessor Vahid Halilhodzic was sacked by the Moroccan football governing body over disagreements about the team’s management.
He was able to mend bridges and bring Hakim Ziyech, who retired from international football after Halilhodzic exiled him for 'disciplinary reasons', back into the fold.
His well-organised and defensively strong side, ranked 22nd in the world just before the World Cup began, became the first African team ever to make it to the last four of the tournament.
"I think Africans can go far, why not dream of winning the cup? We want the next generation to dare to dream," Regragui said after his team's win against Portugal in the quarter-finals.
The Atlas Lions' history-making run ended with a 2-0 defeat to France in the semi-finals, and they lost 2-1 to Croatia in the third-place play-off on Saturday.
"To do what the Morocco manager Regragui has done in the space of a month in the job is baffling," Sky Sports writer Sam Blitz said.
Regragui played for the Moroccan national side in the 2000s, as well as a number of Spanish, French, and Moroccan clubs.
He saw success as a manager when he led Casablanca’s Wydad Athletic Club to the African Champions League crown earlier this year.
Regragui - derogatorily nicknamed 'Avocado Head' when first appointed as national team coach - watched coaching lectures from Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta over Zoom last year in his pursuit to become a better manager.