Wydad Casablanca coach hails 'beautiful' African Champions League win

1 month ago 352
Wydad Casablanca celebrate with the African Champions League trophyWydad Casablanca have won the African Champions League for the third time in the club's history

Wydad Casablanca coach Walid Regragui has hailed his African Champions League-winning side as "beautiful champions".

"I am really happy for my players. They deserve it, they followed my tactics all season," Regragui said.

"And what's more beautiful than beating Al Ahly in the final?

"They wanted to boss the play. They were looking for space with their very fast striker (Percy Tau) and we tried to leave them as little space as we could. We tried to be compact and wait for a counter-attack.

"We fought, we were very focused and our keeper was also in very good form, so I am very happy to deliver this third Champions League in the history of the club.

"Beating the Algerian champion, Angola's champion and Zamalek in the group stages… I think we are a beautiful champion this year."

Praise for match-winner El Moutaraji

Zouheir El Moutaraji scored both goals for Wydad - the first a stunning long-range strike in the first half before adding a second from close range soon after the break.

Regragui hailed the mentality of the 26-year-old after he bounced back from a falling-out with Wydad fans two years ago.

El Moutaraji angered the club's supporters when he threw his shirt on the ground after being substituted in a Moroccan league game which Wydad lost.

Wydad supporters demanded that the forward be punished - with some calling for the club's president to terminate his contact the club. He was forced to trained with the youth team, but was eventually re-integrated into the first-team squad via the substitutes' bench.

However, he has become a key player under Regragui, who took charge at the start of this season.

Wydad Casablanca's Zouheir El MoutarajiZouheir El Moutaraji proved to be the match-winner for Wydad Casablanca

"Zouheir scored two beautiful goals," the 46-year-old said.

"I am very happy for him because it's in front of his public, he nearly got sacked from this club once for throwing his jersey but he paid them back.

"He's a kid from the club and I think it's beautiful that a kid from the club offers [the supporters] the Champions League."

Al Ahly were going for an unprecedented third consecutive title, and boss Pitso Mosimane said profligacy in front of goal cost his side.

"We had our chances," Mosimane said.

"Percy [Tau] had his one-on-one chance with the goalkeeper. If he'd scored that it would have been different. [Mohamed] Sherif had a chance to score. If he'd scored that it would have been different.

"Wydad took the chances that they got and scored the goals. That is football. If you don't score you don't win."

'Hungry' Regragui embraces Wydad challenge

Wydad Casablanca coach Walid RegraguiWalid Regragui won 44 caps for Morocco during his playing days

Regragui, a former Morocco international, was born in France and spent his entire playing career in the land of his birth.

Having spent time managing in Qatar with Al-Duhail after winning the league and cup with Moroccan club FUS Rabat, Regragui said he wanted to "challenge himself" when he joined Wydad.

"When I arrived in Morocco, I was told that I was lucky to work in good conditions and that I was a coach working without pressure," he said.

"But if you know me, you know where I come from - the Parisians suburbs. We are hungry guys there and we love challenges.

"And the more you tell us that we can't make it, the more we want to try.

"My wife was not okay with me coming to Casablanca but I told her 'We're gonna go there and win the Champions League' and that's exactly what we did."

South African Mosimane had won the past two Champions League titles with Al Ahly, adding to his triumph with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016.

He thinks that having Regragui lift the trophy this year proves that African coaches are capable of delivering success.

"I was happy when the coach of Algeria (Djamel Belmadi) won the Cup of Nations," Mosimane said.

"I was very happy when Aliou Cisse won the Cup of Nations (with Senegal this year). I am happy for Walid to win the trophy.

"We have the potential in Africans to win trophies. Sometimes we believe the Europeans can win it - but where are they? Africa is just showing you there is enough ammunition here."

Wydad match Casablanca rivals Raja

Analysis by Jalal Bounouar, Moroccan football reporter

Not only in Casablanca but in different Moroccan cities, Wydad fans spent the night celebrating.

It was a sleepless night here in Casablanca. Thousands of people after the game - including families and children - took to the streets to celebrate the title.

It is a big achievement, not only for Wydad but also for Moroccan football.

It is the third Champions League title for Wydad. Finally they have been able to match the same number of titles rivals Raja Casablanca have.

Wydad now has the chance to play the Fifa Club World Cup and the Caf Super Cup is now 100% Moroccan for the first time, after Renaissance Berkane won the Confederation Cup.

Source Article