Morocco coach complains about refs, hoping to spur team
KALININGRAD, Russia (AP) — Morocco is feeling hard done by at the World Cup. Coach Herve Renard hopes the feelings of injustice will spur his players as they bow out of the tournament against 2010 champion Spain.
Renard complained on Sunday that his team suffered at the hands of match officials in its 1-0 defeat to Portugal, arguing that Cristiano Ronaldo's goal should have been disallowed because of a foul by Pepe in the build-up.
"It was not seen," Renard said. "Why wasn't it seen?"
It was Morocco's second straight 1-0 defeat after losing by the same margin to Iran in its opening match, and it ended the Moroccans' chances of advancing to the knockout stages.
Renard also highlighted an unintentional handball by Pepe — arguing that a penalty was given to Australia for a similar offense in its match against Denmark — and a hard tackle on forward Khaled Boutaib.
"The referees don't say a word. So the whole thing is totally unfair," Renard said. "I hope we will be galvanized by what has been inflicted on us."
With Morocco's honor at stake in the Group B match against Spain in Kaliningrad on Monday night, the French coach of the Atlas Lions is not planning to ease off and give unused squad members playing time.
Morocco's performance against Spain could help determine which two teams advance out of the group between Spain, Iran and Portugal.
"My job is not to try and please people. My job ... is to challenge the Spanish team, to cause difficulties and to make the Moroccan people even prouder," Renard said.
Refereeing aside, Morocco has played well at the country's first World Cup in 20 years, without a single goal or point to show for its efforts.
Renard refused to blame striker Khalid Boutaib for the team's failures in front of the goal.
"For a team to be efficient, productive, it is team play," he said. "We've not been efficient together, so I won't put blame on any particular player."
Midfielder Noureddine Amrabat, who was hospitalized with a head injury in Morocco's first match and returned to play against Portugal five days later, looks likely to start again.
"You maybe tell him that he has to go to war tomorrow. It's not a problem," Renard said. "This is somebody who gives it all for his country. For his homeland he will give all his energy and I'm sure he'll be present tomorrow."