Despite disagreeing with the way Renard handled the extra time against Benin, Hadji says that he will “remain faithful” to the coach if he chooses to stay with the Atlas Lions.
Rabat – Mustapha Hadji, the second assistant of head coach Herve Renard, broke his silence to reveal the reasons behind the shocking and premature elimination of Morocco’s national football team from the 2019 African Cup of Nations (CAN).
The Moroccan team, who were favorites to win the 2019 CANt, lost to Benin in the knockout stage, leaving the Moroccan football community shocked. Fans were particularly disappointed after the last-minute missed penalty that, if scored, could have seen Morocco go on to the quarter-finals.
Contacted by Radio Mars, Hadji commented on the mistakes made by the technical team. Hadji explained that the team had all the means and qualities to go all the way to the final, but it was the bad decisions made by the technical staff which caused the Atlas Lions’ premature exit from the CAN tournament.
“We are responsible for this performance and the defeat against Benin. We made bad choices and we could not find solutions against a team that terminated its game with 10 [players]. Players must not be blamed nor the federation [FRMF], it’s the fault of the technical staff,” Hadji revealed.
When asked about Renard’s choice to exclude certain Moroccan players performing at the national league, Botola Pro, from the national squad, Hadji said he was disappointed not to see them among the 23 man Moroccan squad. He added that some of them have played in African competitions and have gained a lot of experience during this year’s continental tournaments.
“We started having a structured championship. There are four clubs that have been at the top level this year and have players capable of giving a plus to the national team. In the future, they should be present,” he added.
Hadji admitted that he disagreed with the way Renard handled the additional time against Benin, in the match that knocked out the Moroccan team. He added, however, that Renard is his boss and his decision should be respected.
“In my opinion in football, when you get into a field and you’re afraid of losing, that’s when you lose. You already anticipate the defeat. That’s what happened to us,” explained Hadji.
Criticized for his lack of communication with the squad, Hadji clarified that he chose to remain silent to avoid a repeat of the 2018 scenario which caused tensions with Mehdi Benatia, the team’s captain.
“When I reacted in the World Cup, you saw what it cost me. It’s been said that I have no right to talk as I’m not the coach. In Russia, I felt that the group is not the same that I knew and I regret not reacting before the match against Iran,” asserted Hadji.
Subsequently, Hadji preferred to remain silent and act as an observer so as not to become “the disruptive element.”
The former Moroccan player further commended Renard’s efforts with the national team. According to Hadji, Morocco’s long-awaited qualification to the World Cup 2018 in Russia is owed to Renard.
“I will be faithful if he wants to continue the adventure. He made people vibrate. Thanks to him, we arrived at the World Cup after 20 years of absence. He also brought us many things. We found our stability and our identity in the game,” he continued.
After reports emerged stating that Hadji receives a monthly wage of MAD 300,000, the assistant manager denied the rumor and declared that he earns much less than that. He did not disclose his salary.