Pepe believes that his side were hard done by due to an Argentinian referee taking charge of Portugal’s 1-0 loss to Morocco in the quarter-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
“After what I saw today, they can now give the title to Argentina,” the 39-year-old captain said after the match.
“It is inadmissible that an Argentine referee whistled at us today after what happened yesterday, with Messi complaining,” he continued, referring to the referee antics from Argentina’s quarter-final win against the Netherlands.
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz dished out 17 yellow cards and seemed to struggle on imposing any authority in the match. Both the Argentine players and the Dutch players were both unhappy with his refereeing, and several words were exchanged after the final whistle.
Pepe also spoke about Portugal’s tactics in their match against Morocco. The Porto defender was critical of the African teams’ style of play and mentioned that although they struggled in the second half, he believed they had the quality to win the tournament.
“They didn’t play anything in the second half. The only team that wanted to play football was us. We had the quality to win the World Cup; we didn’t.”
The Moroccan players were, of course, in full celebrations long after the final whistle, dancing, taking pictures, thanking fans, and hugging loved ones.
Sofyan Amrabat, who has been one of the many standouts for the African side, said to BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s really unbelievable. I’m so proud. It’s like a dream – unbelievable we’re in the semi-final.
“We deserve this, 1000%. How we fight, how we play, with our heart for our country for the people – it’s unbelievable. Our spirit, we have injuries,” he continued, referring to Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui.
“Three defenders came in, and how they defended, big respect [to them].
The Fiorentina midfielder finished by thanking the fans at the stadium, a majority of who were rooting for the Moroccan side: “It was like we played at home. Thank you [to] all the people.”
Morocco will play either France or England in the semi-finals on Wednesday, December 14th.