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Morocco’s Hakimi to Face Country of his Birth at World Cup

Morocco's Hakimi up Against Country of his Birth at World Cup (News Central TV)

Achraf Hakimi, who was born in Madrid, will have no reluctance when he and his Moroccan colleagues face the 2010 World Cup champions on Tuesday to plan the destruction of Spain.

In the Qatar World Cup’s last-16 encounter against Spain at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, the north African team, led by the flying wingback, has a chance to go to the quarterfinals for the first time.

Hakimi might have even been on the other team; he was called up to play for Spain’s young team when he was still a teenager.

“I felt it was not the right place for me, I did not feel at home. It was not for anything in particular, but it was not how I lived at home, which is the Arab culture, being Moroccan,” he told Spain’s Marca newspaper in the build-up to Tuesday’s clash.

Hakimi’s mother was a house cleaner, while his father sold goods on the streets of Madrid. He was signed by Real Madrid when he was just seven years old, made it to the first team, went on loan to Borussia Dortmund, won the Serie A championship with Inter Milan, and is currently a teammate of Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi at Paris St. Germain.

He will play Spain again, as it will not be the first time. When they drew 2-2 in overtime at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Hakimi was on the team that came close to defeating them in Kaliningrad.

“Four years of experience since have meant I’ve come with a more mature mentality,” he said.

“Spain are a top five team and always come to the World Cup to win. But our coach 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.

“We finished first in the group and I think we deserve a little respect. I think that Spain knows that and that they have to be a little afraid of us. And why can’t we pull off a surprise again?”, he wondered out loud.

With a crucial 2-0 victory over Belgium in the opening round, Morocco qualified for the round of 16, and they followed it up by defeating Canada to take top place in Group F, ahead of Croatia.

“It is something unique, playing for your country. And especially now that we are making history. 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,” Hakimi added.

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