Photo: Giroud and Morocco coach Regragui training together in 2008- 14 years later, they face each other in semi-final of the World Cup

France's Olivier Giroud celebrates after Kylian Mbappe scored their side's second goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between France and Poland, at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Wednesday's World Cup semifinal between France and Morocco will no doubt see some familiar faces united in rivalry on the pitch, with Paris Saint Germain teammates Kylian Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi going head to head.

Youssef En-Neysri and goalkeeper Bono regularly face off against Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann, while Ousmane Dembele and Abde Ezzalzouli shared a dressing room for a while at Barcelona last season before Abde was loaned out to Osasuna this campaign,

However, there are two key people who will be involved in Wednesday's game who know each other for 15 years. France striker Olivier Giroud and Morocco coach Walid Regragui.

Morocco's head coach Walid Regragui react during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Morocco and Spain, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Wednesday's World Cup semifinal between France and Morocco will no doubt see some familiar faces united in rivalry on the pitch, with Paris Saint Germain teammates Kylian Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi going head to head.

Youssef En-Neysri and goalkeeper Bono regularly face off against Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann, while Ousmane Dembele and Abde Ezzalzouli shared a dressing room for a while at Barcelona last season before Abde was loaned out to Osasuna this campaign,

However, there are two key people who will be involved in Wednesday's game who know each other for 15 years. France striker Olivier Giroud and Morocco coach Walid Regragui.

In 2007, Giroud was a 21-year-old trying to break through at French second-division side Grenoble where one of his companions in the dressing room was the 32-year-old Regragui.

Back then the Moroccan coach was a veteran right back coming to the end of a career that saw him play for sides such as Toulouse, Dijon and Racing Santander.

It wasn't an easy season for the young Giroud, and few who watched his 23 first-team appearances for Grenoble, in which he scored just two goals, would have guessed he would progress to become a hero at Arsenal, Chelsea and AC Milan, as well as the all-time record scorer for France.

Giroud had to leave Grenoble to play for third-tier Istres to begin to make his way in the game truly. He netted 14 goals in 33 matches and that was enough to take him back to the second tier with Tours, 21 goals in his second season there earned him a move to Montpellier and 39 goals in two campaigns saw him join Arsenal when he was nearly 26-year old.

As for Regragui: after his two years at Grenoble, he returned to Morocco to end his playing career with Moghreb Tetouan before moving into coaching: first as assistant to the national team, then with several top clubs, before taking over the national team just four months ago.

Now after 15 long years, he and Giroud will come face to face again on the biggest football stage in the world and nobody can accuse either of them of doing it the easy way.

By AFP 1 hr ago
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