Rabat - Moroccan football legend Moustapha Hadji has responded to claims of a fallout between himself and the Atlas Lions' Coach Hervé Renard. He "categorically" dismissed the claims, disparaging them as unfounded speculations.
Rabat – Moroccan football legend Moustapha Hadji has responded to claims of a fallout between himself and the Atlas Lions’ Coach Hervé Renard. He “categorically” dismissed the claims, disparaging them as unfounded speculations.
Hadji is the Moroccan national football team’s second assistant coach. Last week there were reports that Hadji’s relationship with many of the team’s key players created an unfriendly climate, leading to complications with the head coach Hervé Renard.
Sources at the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) alleged that Hadji’s departure from the coaching staff was one of the requirements Renard submitted to FRMF to retain his managing position with Atlas Lions.
Speaking to 2M Radio, Hadji spoke of the warm atmosphere and the “fraternal” terms that marked the Atlas Lions’ stay in Russia during the group phase of the FIFA World Cup. He called Renard an “elder brother” and suggested that their relationship has reached a level beyond football or professional collaboration.
Hadji is annoyed that people speak on his or Renard’s behalf about the pair’s relationship. “No one has the right to speak on Hervé’s or my behalf,” he said. “Our partnership goes beyond a simple professional relationship. He is first and foremost a friend and an elder brother.”
“Our collaboration, including with Renard, Patrice Bomel (the first assistant coach), the whole technical staff, and the team itself is exemplary and exceptional. Football aside, if one day I have a problem, I know I can count on Hervé Renard.”
Proud of Atlas Lions
Of Morocco’s recent participation in the World Cup, Hadji said he keeps fond and positive memories, especially of the team’s “beautiful performances” and their “fighting spirit in defending our national colors.”
He said that the Lions’ World Cup performance was “extraordinary and encouraging.” He added, however, that the first game against Iran was “frustrating.” Although Morocco lost 1-0 to the Iranian squad with an own goal, according to Hadji, Morocco was vastly superior to Iran in footballing terms. “We could beat Iran 10 times out 9 were we to replay the game,” the Moroccan emphatically said.
The former Atlas Lion also said that the team’s last two matches against Portugal and Spain were even more “frustrating and dramatic,” because Morocco tactically dominated both games and could have written a different story had it not been for refereeing errors.
“If there had been no VAR [ideo assistant referee], we would have passed the group stage.”