The FIFA World Cup 2022 has seen many upsets so far. Another David versus Goliath battle was won by the underdog as Morocco overcame Spain on penalties in their Round of 16 tie Tuesday at the Education City Stadium to progress to the quarterfinals.
The Moroccan players etched their names in history as they progressed to the quarterfinals for the first time. Their best finish in a World Cup earlier was a place in the pre-quarterfinals at the 1986 World Cup. What makes the victory even more special is the fact that it came against an opponent with whom they share a border and have fractious relations.
Some things feel like they are written in the stars as Achraf Hakimi, who was born in Madrid, was the one who scored the Panenka penalty to send his team through. Hakimi kept his nerves to coolly score one of the coldest penalties in the history of World Cups after goalkeeper Yassine Bounou’s heroics managed to save two penalties.
After a 0-0 draw till extra time, the match went to penalties, where Morocco triumphed against all odds against their much-fancied opponents, who enjoyed 77 per cent possession of the ball but failed to break the Moroccan defence. Morocco have only conceded one goal in four matches at the World Cup so far, that too an own goal off a wicked deflection.
Achraf Hakimi celebrated with his mother after the match and their photos are winning the internet.
In an earlier interview, Hakimi, who plays for French Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain, was quoted as saying, “My mother cleaned the houses and my father was a street vendor. We come from a modest family that struggled to earn a living. Today I fight every day for them. They sacrificed themselves for me. They deprived my brothers of many things for me to succeed.”
Morocco will now face Portugal in the quarterfinals on December 10 at Al Thumama Stadium.