Fresh from being selected in the Morocco squad, Romain Saiss is excited to challenge himself against some of the best at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
On Thursday, the Wolves midfielder was selected in the final 23-man squad for Morocco, who have been drawn into a group with Spain, Portugal and Iran.
The 28-year-old, who plays in defence for his country, has now turned his attention to Russia and is excited to perform on the biggest stage.
“We’ve waited for 20 years to be in a World Cup,” he explained. “It’s a good opportunity to play against the best teams in the world, players who’ll play in the Champions League final.
“Ronaldo is probably the best striker in the world so it will be a good game, but I’m not focused on Ronaldo, they are a really good team. For the final in the European Championship he was injured but they won without him.
“It’s just football, we are lucky to enjoy it and this could be the only World Cup in my career. The most important thing is not to be afraid, stay humble because we should play like we did before.
“If we stay on the pitch afraid because we play against Spain or Portugal, it’s better we stay at home, but we have good fighting spirit and let’s see if we can pass the group.”
Morocco’s last World Cup appearance came in 1998, when they were eliminated at the group stage, despite picking up four points against Scotland and Norway.
However, in qualification Saiss and his team mates finished top of their group and are pleased to be performing well for their country, as well as Africa as a continent.
“To have a good World Cup will be good for Africa because we want to organise it in 2026 so we have to show a good mentality and give the best for the country and Africa.
“We have a good team, we finished first in our group, which was the hardest in qualification from Africa. We were in a group of five and had to be top.
“With Portugal and Spain in our group, we are not the favourites to pass. We don’t have pressure but want to go to the World Cup with good ambition.”
Saiss, who has performed in midfield for Wolves all season, alongside Ruben Neves and Alfred N’Diaye, is utilised in a back three for Morocco and enjoys the different role.
“I think the two positions are a little bit similar and for my last club I played at centre back when someone was suspended or injured.
“If they ask me to play goalkeeper or striker, I say no problem. It’s good for my career because I can play two positions.”
Morocco’s World Cup campaign begins on 15th June against Iran in Saint Petersburg and Saiss knows the importance of that fixture, given the difficulty of the following two.
“Maybe the game against Iran is the most important, I think a lot of people think Morocco and Iran will be out after the group. They play very good football, they are a good team with a good coach.
“A victory would be important for the confidence before the games against Spain and Portugal. I trust in my team and the staff.
“The most important thing is to be ready for the World Cup and give everything for Morocco. We finished the job with Wolves so now I’m focused on my second objective,” he said.