Morocco's Amrabat pleaded with France star to 'just stop' during World Cup clash

Morocco midfielder Sofyan Amrabat has revealed that he spoke to Olivier Giroud mid-match and asked the France striker to stop man-marking him during their World Cup semi-final clash.

Les Bleus became the first team since Brazil in 1962 to reach a second successive final after securing a 2-0 victory on Wednesday evening, with an early striker from Theo Hernandez and late goal from substitute Randal Kolo Muani booking their passage to Sunday’s showpiece.

Despite being the more unfancied of the two teams, Morocco dictated much of the play in the match and had 61% possession.

Amrabat was somewhat surprised by France’s approach in the contest but feels it was a reflection of how hard the reigning champions had to work to contain the African side, with even Giroud tasked with man-marking the Fiorentina midfielder.

Speaking to NOS after the game, Amrabat said: ‘They left our centre-backs alone. Their striker, Olivier Giroud, was following me everywhere all over the midfield!

‘I said to him, “Just stop!” but he replied that he was instructed to follow me for the whole game.’

He continued: ‘We feel very bitter that we couldn’t do more. France let us have the initiative from the start, so I guess that’s a compliment really.

‘Unfortunately, it was tough for us after stupidly conceding such an early goal and we had to play into their hands, especially with the pace they have up front. If you are 1-0 up it is easier to play football.’

Asked if he will look back on the tournament with pride, Amrabat added: ‘When we look back, I’m sure we will realise that. But now it’s mainly just bitter.

‘Will I be able to smile about it later? Maybe not. It’s even more painful when you get so close.

‘But we should be proud that we played against the reigning world champions in the way we did. It’s a really big compliment to all of Morocco. We really gave everything.’

Morocco had only conceded once prior to Wednesday’s semi-final clash against France, and even that was an own goal against Canada.

En route to the last four, they beat Belgium, Spain and Portugal – all ranked in the top 10 in the world by FIFA – and they can now become the first African or Arab nation to finish with the bronze medal when they take on Croatia in Saturday’s third-place play-off.

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