France coach Herve Renard has warned his team not to take Morocco lightly as they face one of the surprise packages of the Women’s World Cup in the last 16 on Tuesday.
While France’s objective is to win a major women’s title for the first time, Morocco qualified for the last 16 at their debut World Cup against the odds and at the expense of Germany.
There are 67 places between the nations in the FIFA rankings as they clash in Adelaide with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs.
The match is also a special occasion for Renard, who managed the Moroccan men’s team for three years and took them to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“I have marvellous memories of my time in Morocco, but let’s focus on the football,” Renard told reporters on the eve of the game.
“Even when we have a kickabout with friends we want to win, and we are here to win and qualify for the next round.
“The important thing is that we respect our opponents and the fact that this is a last-16 tie at a World Cup.
“Morocco are not here by chance. This is a match of the same calibre as our game against Brazil.”
France beat Brazil 2-1 on the way to topping their group, also defeating Panama after being held by Jamaica in their opening game.
Morocco, meanwhile, bounced back from a 6-0 hammering by Germany to beat both South Korea and Colombia and qualify in second place in Group H behind the South Americans.
“We respect them but we are focused on ourselves,” added Renard.
“There is a lot of experience in this France team. I am here to guide them as well as I possibly can but I get the feeling that they would do just fine on their own if I were not here.”
The match sees Renard pit his wits against fellow Frenchman Reynald Pedros, a former France international as a player who has been in charge of Morocco since 2020.
“There will be just one French coach left in the quarter-finals,” Renard said. “I hope it will be me.”