Morocco ended 36 years of injury in the World Cup by qualifying for the knockout stage – then decided to go all the way.
The Atlas Lions went unbeaten in their three games, with a goalless opener against Croatia – who finished second – followed by one of the shockers of the tournament beating Belgium.
During the post-match press conference, Regragui and man of the match Achraf Hakimi were applauded in the room by journalists from their country.
But it was a question from a Libyan journalist that made the whole room laugh and to which Regragui did not hesitate to answer.
“Do you think you are likely to win the World Cup?” He asked.
Regragui looked at Hakimi and smiled before replying: “We have set ourselves the goal of giving our all and getting out of the group stages.
“After that, why not? Aim for the sky. We have to change our mentality and we will be a tough team to beat.
“Why not dream of winning this trophy? As African teams, we must set ourselves this goal.”
“One of the best performances we’ve had”
The tournament organizers have said that this World Cup is not just about Qatar, but about the Middle East region and Muslims as a whole.
Before the game, Moroccan fans were in high spirits, dancing and singing outside the stadium with chants of “Allez les Maghreb,Allez les Maghreb”.
The Maghreb in North Africa is the western region of the Arab world – but this is a particular victory for the entire Arab and Muslim world.
The boisterous Morocco fans were on their feet throughout the game, cheering every tackle and jeering every time the Canadian players put their foot on the ball.
It took just four minutes for their opener, Hakim Ziyech taking advantage of a poor keeper, while Youssef En-Nesyri added a second before Nayef Aguerd’s own goal.
The last time Morocco left the group was 36 years ago, without achieving the feat in 1994, 1998 and the last time in Russia.
But they will face a tough task against former champions Spain.
“It was not very easy, but when you have this opportunity to write history, you remember it,” said Regragui, who was appointed manager in August.
“Today’s first half was honestly one of the best performances we’ve had. We made the Moroccans pretty happy.
“The own goal shook us up a bit. We went into the second half and there was pressure but I loved it. Those players were there and hung on.
“We fought and fought. I’m happy for my players, they trusted me and my country too.”
Outside the Al Thumama stadium after the match, cars honked their horns and fans waved Moroccan flags from open sunroofs.
Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba said on BBC One: “In 2018 none of these teams made it to the next round, so to see Morocco win the group, the way they played, with a lot of intensity – I’m really happy with what the manager did there.
“I know he won the African Champions League with his team and then came to the national team.
“I knew he would bring intensity but I didn’t expect them to finish top of the group and be the best team in the group.”
Hakimi a “warrior”
A picture of Hakimi went viral after the win over Belgium, when he jumped into the stands and was kissed on the cheek by his mother.
Full-back and Paris St-Germain captain Romain Saiss was in tears on Thursday and when asked by BBC Sport why he was so emotional, Hakimi said: “I never dreamed of achieving something for my country. with Morocco is something incredible.
“Doing something big for your country is better than with the club. I’m here to help all the Moroccan people.
“When I was young, I saw the last generation that came to the World Cup and I dreamed of being like them.
“For this I cry because I saw my family and those around me. We want to help the team, you never know when we can do it again. We are happy and have to enjoy the moment.”
Hakimi was an injury doubt but played the whole game and provided a wonderful assist for the second goal.
“Achraf is a warrior you should praise every day,” Regragui said. “I asked him if he wanted to continue and he said ‘for my country, I will play’.”