Morocco is due to face France next Wednesday in the semi-finals of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
This match, a classic for the tricolor but a first for the Atlas Lions, will be that of reunion first, between the Moroccan coach Walid Regragui, and a certain Olivier Giroud, top scorer of the France team.
For those who don’t know, the two men at some point wore the same colors, those of Grenoble Foot 38 (GF 38) in Ligue 1.
This dates back to 2008, when Regragui then wore the jersey of the Isère club, while Giroud ended a loan at Istres and was preparing to join Tours.
They played a joint half-time against Strasbourg in a warm-up match (1-0), before fate separated them, to bring them together again at the 2022 World Cup, when they are, one as the another, at the peak of their performance: One is a top scorer, and the other the first Arab and African coach to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Olivier Giroud 🇫🇷 will find his ex-teammate in Grenoble in 2007 Walid Regragui 🇲🇦! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/whX63xEXiB
— Foot Mercato (@footmercato) December 10, 2022
This meeting is also that of friendship and reunion between two accomplices who will have to compete on the ground, Kylian Mbappé and Achraf Hakimi.
Their friendship is known to all, displayed and assumed by both. Their ties, which they describe as “fraternal and family”, continued during this World Cup, Mbappé having visited Hakimi twice at the place of residence of the Atlas Lions.
A sentence launched in a joking tone on this occasion has become reality: The two friends, very close within their club, PSG, will face each other next Wednesday at the Al-Bayt stadium, but each with a jersey. different, and will each defend different colors.
The right side of the Atlas Lions, has already made an appointment with his friend, via a post on twitter.
See you soon my Friend ❤️🤝🏽 @KMbappe
— Achraf Hakimi (@AchrafHakimi) December 10, 2022
Saiss, Boufal, Ounahi…and the others
Besides Achraf Hakimi, other national team players are well known to the French public. Born in France, or having evolved in France (or both!) Romain Saïss, Sofiane Boufal, Zakaria Aboukhlal or Azeddine Ounahi, are regulars in French football.
In Angers, Soufiane Boufal has several fans who love her dribbles and her breakthroughs. The other Angevin, Azzedine Ounahi, also caused a sensation during this World Cup and attracted several eyes.
Ligue 1 also sees the evolution of former WAC defender Achraf Dari (Brest), Zakaria Aboukhlal (Toulouse FC), while Nayef Aguerd, before joining West Ham in the Premier League, delighted Dijon supporters.
Note that next Wednesday’s meeting for the 2nd semi-final of Qatar 2022 will be the 6th between the two teams, but the first in official competition.
Morocco and France indeed crossed swords in 1998 (victory of France 2-1), later the same year 1998 (victory of Morocco on tabs 5-6) in 1999 (victory of France 1-0) , in 2000 (victory of France 5-1), and in 2007 (draw 2-2).