Morocco sealed a fifth Fifa World Cup qualification, the first in 20 years- on Saturday in Abidjan after defeating host team Ivory Coast 2-0 in the final matchday of the 2018 World Cup qualifying.
The Atlas Lions coach Herve Renard was returning to the West African country, where he had a fairytale stint in 2015 by leading the Elephants to victory at the Africa Cup of Nations of that year.
This time, he was sharing his joy with a thousand Moroccan fans who travelled to Abidjan to cheer the team to triumph.
“Morocco King Mohammed XI called me just after the final whistle. He was very happy. He congratulated us, spoke to my captain and wanted to let us know how our victory has brought great joy to the entire population,” Renard said.
“I share that joy as well and mostly with those who travelled from Morocco to Abidjan for the game. They made a lot of sacrifices. They spent their own money and were devoted all through. Imagine if the result hadn’t been favourable, how do you think they could get out of the stadium?”
How did the North Africans overcome the Ivorians, with such an ease?
The 49-year-old Frenchman claimed their solidarity on the pitch paid off and destabilised the Elephants.
“My players were extremely united and determined during the game. You could have noticed that, midfielders and forwards falling back to help out in the defence and vice versa. We also won the battle of the midfield and challenges for balls were mostly coming our way. I think that helped us a lot.
“You could see the determination in every player even those on the bench. We were united in spirit. We wanted to win and we achieved it.
Looking ahead, Renard, a former defender, said he would like to face his country France at Russia 2018. He never played with Les Bleus during his active days on the pitch. “But now I can play against them and it would be a great honour for me,” he said.