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Morocco’s Star Yassine Bounou Recalls Unforgotten World Cup Memories

For Bounou, the main source of Morocco’s World Cup heroics was the “perfect combination” of talent and group cohesion.

Rabat – The year 2022 remains a great year to remember for Moroccan football fans and players, and Morocco’s star goalkeeper Yassine Bounou highlighted in a recent interview some of his abiding memories from the Atlas Lions’ heroics at the Qatar World Cup.

As he again reminisced about the global tournament in a new interview with the BBC, Bounou said one of the key highlights of Morocco’s World Cup in Qatar was his sudden health concerns prior to the Morocco vs Belgium game in the group phase. 

He told the BBC that he felt in pain ahead of the game, with the team doctor warning that a painkiller would last for 60 to 90 minutes.

Bounou then decided to do his warm-up before taking an injection shortly before the game started.

“I went into the tunnel with the two teams,  and was feeling very bad, and I spoke with the captain, Romain Saiss, and said ‘I’m not feeling good,’” he told BBC.

The Atlas Lion also informed referee Cesar Ramos to ask whether it is possible to allow him to be replaced before the game kicks off.

“He said, ‘no problem. You can do the anthem and after you can go out.’”

Appearing during the anthem and suddenly disappearing caused concerns among many fans, who took to social networks to question the player’s sudden disappearance.

The situation also felt “strange” for the Moroccan goalkeeper, who said that “it was very difficult for me because everybody sees you and after you disappear.”

Having been eager to play the game with the Atlas Lions, Bounou said that the situation was a “strange moment.”

He added, “Maybe if you lose you will not play more at the World Cup, but we won and after everything it was OK.” 
Morocco won their game against Belgium 2-0. The North African countries also clinched an important victory against Canada 2-1, with Bounou’s participation.

Read also: Morocco’s World Cup Legacy: The Gift of Dreaming

The win allowed Morocco to secure a spot for the knockouts, marking the first time ever for the Atlas Lions to make it out of the group phase since 1986.

Bounou also contributed to Morocco’s qualification to the semi-finals after saving two penalties during shootout against Spain.

“Winning on penalties, it was a very good sensation. The Moroccan people were very happy,” he said.

Exiting the World Cup was a “sad moment” for the Atlas Lions and Moroccan fans, especially as many were already thinking about reaching the final.

“When we arrived against France people were thinking about the final so after the game, it was very sad,” Bounou said, noting that the Atlas Lions succeeded in showing  a “very good image from Morocco.”

During the BBC interview, Bounou also renewed gratitude for head coach Walid Regragui’s assistance and impact on the team.

Regragui, who was appointed just three months ahead of the World Cup, managed to create an atmosphere of attachment, cohesion, and friendship among all team players.

Commenting on Regragui, Bounou stressed that the coach knows the mentality of both Moroccan players who grow up in Europe and those that were born in Morocco.

This “had a big impact,” he said, stressing that every member of the Moroccan World Cup squad understood the coach’s assignments and knew exactly what he needed from each player. 

Ultimately, Bounou suggested, the main source of Morocco’s World Cup heroics was the “perfect combination” of talent and group cohesion. “It’s because there is good talent too in the team. It was a perfect combination,”he concluded.

Source : Morocco World News