Morocco’s “remarkable adventure” at the Women’s World Cup is at an end, but coach Reynald Pedros believes this is just the beginning for a talented group of players he wants to help qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris next year.
Morocco lost 4-0 to a formidable France side in their last 16 tie on Tuesday, the last of the African teams to exit the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
But Pedros says their unexpected run to the knockout stages is a similar achievement to Morocco’s men’s side reaching the semi-finals of their World Cup in Qatar last year.
“I sincerely believe that getting to the last 16 with this team, for the first time, is the equivalent of the guys getting to the semi-finals,” he told reporters.
“It is beyond fantastic. We only started building this team three years ago. There are so many things that make us proud even though we have been knocked out.
“Being in a World Cup last 16 for Morocco is exceptional. It has been a remarkable adventure.”
Morocco had not appeared at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in 22 years when they hosted the tournament last year and reached the final, losing 2-1 to South Africa but showing their new-found potential to compete.
That reputation has been further enhanced by their showing at the World Cup, which started with a 6-0 loss to Germany, but was followed by 1-0 wins over South Korea and Colombia that sealed their progression to the knockout rounds.
They showed themselves to be organised and disciplined, if a little lacking in forward areas.
But for Frenchman Pedros, there is little time to rest as he has another major championship in his sights and is determined to book a ticket to Paris.
“I am going to congratulate and thank them (the players) because what they have given us in terms of emotions is quite incredible, and then we will get back down to work,” he said.
“We have the Olympic qualifiers to prepare for and we have gained experience from this. I am really, really proud to be coach of this team because we have fantastic players.”
Morocco will be expected to brush aside Namibia in their opening two-legged qualifier in October but will be on a collision course with fellow World Cup participants Zambia in their half of the draw for a place at the Olympics, where Africa has two places available.
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