Atlas Lions of Morocco’s attacker Zakaria Aboukhlal is delighted with the Arab solidarity on show at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and hopes his side will win for them on Tuesday.
Morocco who finished top of Group F ahead of Croatia, Belgium and Canada will face 2010 World champions Spain in their round of 16 clash at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan.
Aboukhlal who plays his club football in France with Toulouse came off the bench to seal a memorable group victory over Belgium spoke at the pre-match Press Conference on Monday:
“It is great to see the way Arabs here are helping one another. We were happy when Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina. We also felt when we defeated Belgium and Canada that other Arab countries were happy for us.”
“We are excited to have reached the last 16. We do not want to stop here. We want to go further and, God willing, we will keep going. We are very happy for Moroccan fans. We see many people who came here from Morocco. I like to thank them,” said Aboukhlal.
Morocco are the remaining African and Arab side left at the competition and head coach Walid Regragui is hoping star defender Achraf Hakimi makes full recovery from a niggling issue as the PSG right back comes up against his country of birth.
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Luis Enrique’s Spain will also be bidding to avoid another second round exit after bowing out at this stage to hosts Russia in 2018. In fact, the Spaniards have not gone beyond the round of 16 since winning the tournament in 2010.
Tuesday’s game will kick-off at 6pm local time, 4pm Nigerian time. It is the second instalment of the Africa vs Europe round of 16 fixtures after England’s emphatic 3-0 hammering of Senegal on Sunday night.
Fisayo Dairo, reporting from Al Wakrah, Qatar