A closer look at the key men behind magical Morocco bid for World Cup glory

The Atlas Lions have beaten Belgium, Spain – on penalties – and Portugal on their historic journey into the last four

Carl Markham
Sunday 11 December 2022 14:36 GMT
Morocco player Sofiane Boufal dances on pitch with his mother following World Cup win

Morocco’s emergence as the surprise package of the World Cup has seen them become the first African nation to reach the semi-finals of the tournament.

They have beaten Belgium, Spain – on penalties – and Portugal on their historic journey into the last four.

Here, we take a look at some of the players who have helped them get there.

Yassine Bounou (Sevilla)

The 31-year-old – known as Bono – was named LaLiga’s top goalkeeper last season and he has carried that form into this tournament. He has kept four clean sheets in five matches, conceding just once (to Canada), and saved two of Spain’s three penalties in the last-16 shootout.

The right-back’s quality was not in question, considering for whom he plays, but his importance to the team has become increasingly evident as the tournament has progressed. Hakimi has been a driving force from deep on the right and his audacious panenka in the shootout win over Spain highlighted his confidence.

Sofyan Amrabat (midfielder, Fiorentina)

Morocco’s defensive style means Amrabat has a key role for the side, anchoring the base of midfield. His performances at the tournament have seen him allocated an even more restricted job protecting the back four than he has at club level but it is one in which he has excelled.

Hakim Ziyech (winger, Chelsea)

Having returned from ‘retirement’ earlier this year after a fall-out with former manager Vahid Halilhodzic, Ziyech has flourished under Walid Regragui. He is the team’s joint top-scorer at the tournament with two but leads the side for crosses, shots on target and passes and his link-up play with Hakimi is pivotal.

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