Sports, Football

France eye World Cup glory as Morocco loom

Published : 11 Dec 2022 07:44 PM

Defending champions France on Sunday trained their sights on a World Cup semi-final against surprise package Morocco as Argentina and Lionel Messi prepare to take on Croatia.

Didier Deschamps' men edged past England in a thrilling quarter-final in the Qatar desert to move one step closer to becoming the first team to retain the trophy in 60 years.

They will meet Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday after the African team sent Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal packing to become the first African team in history to reach the last four.

France were second best for long spells against Gareth Southgate's England on Saturday and were grateful for a late Harry Kane penalty miss as they won 2-1.

England captain Kane had earlier cancelled out AurelienTchouameni's opener, firing past his Tottenham teammate Hugo Lloris from the penalty spot.

That goal put him level with Wayne Rooney as England's all-time leading scorer.

Olivier Giroud headed France back into the lead in the 78th minute before England were handed a lifeline but this time Kane blasted over and England's chance was gone.

Deschamps, who led France to triumph in Russia in 2018, said his side showed "hearts and guts" to defeat a youthful England team.

"There is quality in this team, but there is also a good mentality and a state of mind," he said. "We gave them a little ammunition with two penalties, but it is with hearts and guts that we held onto this result."

Deschamps, who also won the World Cup as a player, said France's semi-final opponents Morocco, ranked 22nd in the world, "deserve all our respect and recognition".

"They weren't among the teams we were expecting there, but it's anything but a surprise."

Southgate said he would take his time before he makes a decision over his future as England coach as the nation's long and painful wait for a major trophy goes on.

The 1966 World Cup winners reached the semi-finals in 2018 and the final at last year's European Championship but have again come up short against top-class opposition.