There are World Cup matches won in regulation time, some in the extra period. But those won in penalty shootouts — the Russian roulette of the game — can be the cruellest.
When Morocco blanked Spain 3-0 on penalties in the round of 16 match at the Education City Stadium on Tuesday, it was a Spainborn warrior of Maghreb who put the final nail in the coffin.
Achraf Hakimi — a fullback who grew up on the streets of Madrid — scored the decisive goal, leaving goalkeeper Unai Simon on the other side, and that too with a Panenka!
“My mother cleaned 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,” he had once told Bundesliga.com.
Hakimi — having chosen to represent his parents’ country of origin, Morocco — has played a key role for the Atlas Lions since 2018 and was a crucial part of their attack against Spain.
“I was in Las Rojas (Spanish national camp) for a couple of days and I saw that it wasn’t the right place for me, I didn’t feel at home,” the 24-year-old had revealed.
“It wasn’t for anything in particular, but for what I felt, because it wasn’t what I had grown up with and lived at home, which is Arab culture, being Moroccan... I wanted to be here.”
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The player being hugged and kissed by his mother after wins over Belgium and Spain has become one of the most endearing moments of the tournament.
When Hakimi plays in the quarterfinal, it will be a victory for Morocco and immigrants the world over.
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