Morocco’s stunning 2-0 defeat of world No. 2 Belgium began in bizarre fashion for Morocco, with goalkeeper Yassine Bounou asking to be withdrawn from the team after the national anthems.
The gloveman had been seen talking to match officials in the tunnel before the match, but was announced over the stadium loudspeakers as starting – only to disappear after the anthems.
Munir El Kajoui took his place for the team photo and then between the sticks, though commentators initially missed the late change.
And fans were left nonplussed at the late switch, before it was later revealed Bounou had been struggling with dizziness. He was seen on the team bench with his head in his hands.
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“He felt dizzy and I spoke with coach (Walid) Regragui about withdrawing him from the starting line-up,” team doctor Abderrazak Hefti told Moroccan state television Arryadia. “But he is fine now and he will play against Canada.”
Regragui had earlier said the Sevilla stopper had suffered an injury towards the end of Croatia game and felt something in the warm-up.
Munir showed no signs of nerves after being thrown in at the last minute, making some crucial saves to keep a clean sheet.
“Munir did a great job. I have great players. They listen to the instructions and they fight with all of their heart,” added Regragui.
“Keep focused, keep positive and we will get great results.”
Late goals from Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal at the Al Thumama Stadium secured Morocco their first World Cup win in 24 years.
The North Africans only need a point in their final Group F game against Canada on Thursday to reach the last 16 for the first time since 1986.
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Meanwhile, Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was far from pleased at the result, which leaves the 2018 semi-finalists needing a result against 2018 finalists Croatia in their final group stage fixture on Friday morning.
Courtois was seen fuming after the stoppage-time second goal, before fan footage from the stands showed him punching the side of the team dugout as he headed down the tunnel.