Morocco coach 'ready to quit' if World Cup bid fails

Reuters

Under pressure following Morocco's ouster from the Africa Cup of Nations, Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic said Thursday he was ready to stand down if his World Cup qualification bid falls short.

"My first goal is to get the team to qualify, and if I don't manage that I could leave," he said during a press conference in Rabat.

"Let me carry on and do everything I can to get to the World Cup. That's my goal."

Morocco is to face the Democratic Republic of Congo in a World Cup qualifier next month.

Halilhodzic, a 69-year-old former Nantes and Paris Saint-Germain player, had arrived at his third Africa Cup of Nations hoping Morocco could shed their reputation as underachievers, ending a 46-year wait for a second title.

But the Lions of the Atlas crashed out in an ill-tempered Sunday quarter-final against Egypt, followed by a locker-room brawl.

Halilhodzic put the defeat down to "inexperience" but condemned the fight.

"The Egyptians were smarter, more vicious, but brawling is undignified," Halilhodzic said. "I saw lots of people shouting, there were insults."

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) later suspended players from both sides, including Moroccans Soufian Chakla and Soufiane Boufal, for "violent behaviour".

That rules them out of next month's World Cup qualifier.

Halilhodzic said the team had appealed.

Following the team's defeat, "I've had death threats, I'm used to that as a trainer, but I've also had a lot of encouragement, which helps," he added.

He also defended his choice to leave Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech off the team, saying he "lacks respect".

"I can't bring on a player who could blow up the team, even if he's called Lionel Messi," he said.


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