Morocco’s coach Herve Renard speaks during a press conference at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 24, 2018, during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. Patrick HERTZOG / AFP
Morocco coach Herve Renard Sunday said his team had been victim to a “total injustice” in becoming the first nation knocked out of the World Cup before their final Group B clash with Spain.
Morocco were eliminated after losing 1-0 to Portugal in Moscow after a 95th-minute own goal saw them lose to Iran by the same scoreline in their opener.
“When you look at the facts in the Portugal game, it’s totally unfair.
“For the goal we conceded, there was an obvious foul by (defender) Pepe at the front post. Why did (the referee) not see it?” Renard told reporters in Kaliningrad ahead of Monday’s encounter.
“Then there was a handball by Pepe, exactly the same as the one (that was given as a penalty) for Australia” in the Socceroos’ Group C match against Denmark.
Morocco attacked Portugal relentlessly in the second half in Moscow after Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with an early header.
“For me it’s a total injustice, especially because of the quality showed by my players during the game. You mustn’t forget we were playing the European champions.
“It’s unfair that we’re already eliminated but we have to accept reality.”
Goalkeeper Munir al-Kajoui agreed that the team had been unlucky in their two games so far.
“When we arrived in Russia the coach told us about VAR and we had to be aware of this in key moments,” he said. “But in our case it’s been decisive and it’s basically thrown us out of the tournament.
“We are talking about a couple of moments that really hurt us.”
Munir, who was born in the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla, plays his club football in Spain, and said he expects a tough test against the 2010 winners in Kaliningrad.
“Spain have great stars but honestly none inspire fear in me,” said the Numancia stopper.
“Obviously, it’s an important match for us, for our honour and our pride and to try to give some joy to our fans. They deserve it.”
Frenchman Renard, who once managed Cambridge United in England’s fourth tier, said his team would be motivated for the game despite having nothing to play for.
“My job is to pose Spain problems and make the Moroccan people proud,” he said.