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Morocco deserves respect ahead of Spain tie, says defender Hakimi


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⚽ Morocco vs Spain 6pm (UBC tv)
⚽ Portugal vs Switzerland 10pm

Doha, Qatar | Xinhua | Morocco defender Achraf Hakimi has asked for more “respect” for his side as they prepare for a last-16 tie against Spain in the World Cup.

The 24-year-old right back knows Spain well, having begun his career in the Real Madrid youth system, making nine first team appearances before joining Borussia Dortmund.

He won the Serie A title with Inter Milan, before joining Paris Saint-Germain last season, forming part of the side that won Ligue 1 last season.

With 57 appearances for his country already, Achraf is part of the team that qualified top of Group F, remaining unbeaten and conceding just one goal from a group that contained the 2018 runner-up Croatia and Belgium, who finished third in 2018 and ranked second in the world before the World Cup kicked off.

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s match against the Spanish, Achraf thought Morocco deserves to be taken more seriously.

“Spain are a top five team and always come to the World Cup to win. But our coach (Walid Regragui) has also taught us to have a winning mentality; it doesn’t matter who we are up against. We are going to try to play our way and try to beat them,” he commented.

“We finished first in the group and I think we deserve a little respect,” said Achraf, who believed the Spanish would have taken note of a side that has other players, such as Youssef En-Nesyri, Abde Ezzalzouli and goalkeeper Bono, who all play in La Liga.

“I think that Spain knows about us, and that they have to be a little afraid of us. And why can’t we pull off a surprise again?” he commented.

The defender admitted it was “unique,” to “play for your country, especially now that we are making history.”

He also highlighted to the large number of fans supporting Morocco in Qatar, as has been the case with all North-African and Arab clubs.

“It’s incredible to see how people are living it with us, and that energy transmits a lot to us and gives us strength to continue and look to do great things,” he concluded. ■

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