It is appropriate that Regragui, who stands for a paradigm-shift in African coaching, made the declaration because it signalled a paradigm shift in how African nations approach the World Cup. It is no accident that all five African nations had African coaches in charge of them for the first time at the 2022 World Cup.
As an African football journalist, I frequently dread the week leading up to World Cups because, without fail, at least one Western media outlet will inquire about Pele’s fictitious prediction that an African team would win the competition before the year 2000 in the middle of the 1970s. I thought to myself, “What prevented an African team from winning a World Cup in years past?”
That is partially attributable to the brutal colonisation of the continent by Western European countries, as well as the former Fifa bosses’ refusal to give Africa an automatic spot in the tournament, even for independent nations. Africa boycotted the 1966 World Cup in England to let Fifa know that it wanted a guaranteed spot in the event, which it eventually got in 1970.
Is it just a coincidence that the only time each continent hosted the competitions was when Africa and Asia achieved their best-ever finishes? The Qatar World Cup has been by far the most successful tournament for African nations on the field, with three Asian teams making it to the knockout stages this year. Morocco became the first African country to win a group with seven points, while Tunisia defeated the defending champions France.
Cameroon became the first African country to defeat Brazil in a World Cup match. Morocco winning the competition and speaking Regragui’s words into existence would be the icing on this “World Cup of upsets.”.