Morocco became the first African team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup. The defense stood out again, goalkeeper Bono cried and was the player of the game with an asterisk.
Yassine Bounou, better known by his nickname Bono, followed up with another training session at the Al Thumama stadium. He was the coach this time, he had put his big goalkeeper gloves on his little son Isaac.
Bono with his son Isaac
The two enjoyed being able to play mostly alone on the lawn, and it was also comparatively quiet.
During the game and especially at the final whistle it was loud, very loud. Morocco defeated Portugal 1-0 in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, a historic victory as it marked the first time an African side reached the top four on the biggest stage in world football.
tears after the final whistle
“I think it’s the first time I’ve cried after a game. I don’t usually want that to show I’m strong. But if you get to the semi-finals of the World Cup, I can’t hold my tears‘ said Bono, who presented his award as ‘man of the match” to the goalscorer Youssef En-Nesyri, with whom he also plays at Sevilla FC. But that was only symbolically possible.
He will be in the books as player of the match, although an asterisk after his name would be appropriate: *representing a team that put in a fantastic defensive performance.
A bit of luck came when a Portuguese shot hit the crossbar and, outnumbered, Pepe had a good opportunity to equalize just before the end. But looking at the game as a whole, the Europeans only had a few opportunities. Central defender Jawad El Yamiq won 80 percent of his duels, his neighbor Achraf Dari, who came for Romain Saïss, who was also strong until he was substituted due to injury (57th), even 83 percent. Things were looking worse for Sofyan Amrabat, but the 26-year-old Fiorentina pro impressed in defensive midfield.
On the ground and in the air, the defensive showed their extra class, which coach Walid Regragui had previously considered underestimated. “Now everyone knows that Moroccan players can play at the highest level.”
The only goal conceded was an own goal
Morocco kept a clean sheet against Croatia, Belgium, Spain in the round of 16 and now in the quarterfinals. The only goal of the tournament, conceded in the 2-1 win over Canada, was an own goal. In the only four games before the World Cup in which Regragui was already the coach, the opponents also went away empty-handed.
“passion, greed and conviction“, according to Regragui, are the attributes that make up his teams, especially in the game against the ball.
The famous success touched a reporter from Morocco so much that he said during the press conference “no question at all” had, because: “Your performance answered all questions. We are so proud.”
Bono told another reporter, unable to believe the success of the North Africans: “I have to pinch myself to believe it too.“Then the goalkeeper promised that he and his team-mates would now regenerate well to play on Wednesday (14.12.2022) “with the same energy” to play in the semifinals. The easy run out with his son Isaac was a successful start.