No Cup rues for Morocco's Renard despite two losses - Daily Nation

No Cup rues for Morocco's Renard despite two losses

Friday June 22 2018

American referee Mark Geiger (left) speaks with Morocco's French coach Herve Renard (centre) during their 2018 World Cup Group B match against Portugal at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 20, 2018. PHOTO | FRANCISCO LEONG |

American referee Mark Geiger (left) speaks with Morocco's French coach Herve Renard (centre) during their 2018 World Cup Group B match against Portugal at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 20, 2018. PHOTO | FRANCISCO LEONG |  AFP

By JAMES ONYANGO MWAMBA
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Morocco coach Herve Renard has shifted his focus on his team’s final Group B match against Spain on Monday in Kaliningrad.

Morocco, who have lost their first two matches in Group B, are out of the tournament and will be playing for pride when they take on Spain who are ranked fourth globally.

After Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Portugal at Luzhniki Stadium, Renard said his focus now remains to finish strongly against the 2010 World Cup champions.

“Our focus is to finish stronger against Spain. That is what is on our minds now. We have qualified for the World Cup for the first time after 20 years and we have shown that we can play football,” he told journalists in his post-match press conference at Luzhniki Stadium.

Renard also refused to blame poor officiating for his team’s 1-0 loss to Portugal who are fourth in Fifa rankings.

“It is not up to me to talk about officiating. You look at the replays and make up your mind whether a foul should have been given. We are proud as a team and this is the feeling in the squad,” he told journalists after the match.

After losing their opening match in the group 1-0 to Iran, Morocco, ranked 41st globally, fell behind against Portugal when an unmarked Cristiano Ronaldo rose highest to head the ball home from a Joao Moutinho cross in the fourth minute of the first half which the reigning European champions dominated.

And in the first minute of time added on, Portugal defender Pepe took a theatrical tumble after Morocco captain Mehdi Benatia patted him on the back, prompting jeers from Morocco fans.

Nobody was booked in the incident, and Pepe was later roundly condemned for the incident, but Renard chose to steer clear of the matter in his post-match press conference.

Ronaldo’s goal against, his fourth in the tournament and which makes him the top scorer, effectively ended Morocco’s chances of progressing out of a group that has Spain, who drew their first match 3-3 with Portugal last Friday and beat Iran 1-0. Russia’s Artem Dzyuba and Spain’s Diego Costa are second with three goals each.

Portugal and Spain are joint top in the group with four points, while Iran are third with three points. Morocco are bottom of the group with no point.

With the exception of Senegal who beat Poland in their first match of Group H on Tuesday at Spartak Moscow Stadium, all African teams here have lost their matches.

Senegal will be looking to continue their fine run when they play Japan at Ekaterinburg on Sunday.