Bounou the calm presence behind Morocco's World Cup success

education metropolis, Qatar — Yassine Bounou was the final one to depart the Morocco dressing room, clearly exhausted mentally however with an limitless smile on his face. and since Bounou (or Bono) is little question one in every of many nicest guys in soccer, his night was not executed simply but. Two hours after his crew’s historic victory in opposition to Spain, he was nonetheless giving interviews to almost anyone who was asking for one. For radio, for tv, for written press, in English, in Spanish, in Arabic, in French. each time, he recalled his unbelievable heroics by way of the penalty shootout.

“It was unbelievable,” he informed ESPN. “it is a historic second. I hadn’t even ready for the shootout that a lot. There was so a lot strain inside the sport so I simply tried to get pleasure from it.

“For the penalties, it is about instinct, a little bit of luck and that is it, there’s not a lot else.”

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and each time he speaks, his mild voice and his massive grin spotlight as quickly as extra what this historic FIFA World Cup consequence means to him, to his teammates, and to their people.

“we’re so blissful for the followers, for our people, for our households,” he mentioned. “we’re starting to understand what this win represents for Morocco however in addition all all by way of the world. We felt the unbelievable assist from our followers and we used it at this time.”

whether or not Morocco beat Portugal inside the quarterfinals or not, Bounou will possible be a hero endlessly. The Atlas Lions have reached the final eight of a World Cup for the principal time, and it is largely due to him. He stopped the penalties from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets, and if Pablo Sarabia‘s spot-kick hadn’t hit the submit, Bounou had dived the exact means anyway and would have saved it had it been heading in the right direction.

The Moroccan is an fantastic penalty stopper. He stopped two spot-kicks inside the identical recreation as quickly as: in opposition to FC Salzburg inside the UEFA Champions League in Sep. 2021. inside the calendar yr 2021, he saved 5 of the thirteen penalties that he confronted. earlier than the shootout in opposition to Spain, he had saved thirteen of the previous 50 taken in opposition to him. Not a foul ratio in any respect. And probably as a consequence of Walid Regragui trusted his keeper so a lot, or probably as a consequence of he did not want to tempt destiny both, the Morocco head coach did not ask his gamers to practise penalties the day earlier than the sport. He allow them to play with their aptitude and guts, and it labored so properly.

Romain Saiss, the Morocco captain, was stuffed with reward for his teammate.

“it is fantastic for him,” Saiss informed ESPN. “He had a heroic recreation at this time, not solely by way of the penalties. He simply needed to level out why he was named most interesting LaLiga goalkeeper final season. he is an environment nice keeper, he proved it in opposition to Spain. We owe him so a lot at this time.”

Saiss and Bounou have been taking half in collectively for years. The keeper is completely different to his captain: he is extra introverted, calm, reserved. however so environment nice. the one purpose he has conceded on this World Cup is that scored by teammate Nayef Aguerd in opposition to Canada. collectively with Achraf Hakimi, Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui, Saiss kinds one in every of the most interesting defence inside the opponents. And Bounou instructions his again 4 so properly; he has pure management qualities even when he does not communicate an extreme quantity of.

“We notion him,” Azzedine Ounahi, Morocco’s good midfielder, informed ESPN. “all of us know he is an fantastic keeper. We knew that if we bought to the penalties, he would do the job for us. And he did. Spain did not even rating a single penalty.

“he is amongst the numerous most interesting goalkeepers on the planet, and he proved it at this time.”

the notion and notion in Bounou from Regragui and the squad is clearly one in every of many keys of the Moroccan success in Qatar. At 31, that is the stage Bounou has dreamed of since he was rising up in Montreal, Canada. With Sevilla, whom he joined inside the summertime of 2019 from Girona, he has achieved good issues, gained massive trophies akin to a consequence of the UEFA Europa League, and created massive upsets.

Now he needs to do it with Morocco, and he’ll possible be assured that he and his teammates can reproduce their efforts after they face Portugal Saturday. The celebrations will proceed awhile, however Bounou, regardless of standing 191cm (6-foot-three), will not be seen or put himself forward. nonetheless, as quickly as a consequence of the ball is kicked in opposition to Portugal, he’ll really feel like he is on a mission as quickly as extra.


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