Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou says Spain will force his side to raise their level after they reached the last 16 of the World Cup for just the second time.
The Atlas Lions reached the knockout rounds after an unbeaten Group F campaign in which they held 2018 finalists Croatia to a draw and shocked Belgium, before sealing top spot with victory over Canada.
Their reward is a tie with La Roja, themselves reeling from the surprise of qualifying second out of Group E after Japan snatched victory against them in their final game, in the process eliminating Germany.
While his team have already written their place in national sporting folklore, Bounou knows that something truly special is on the line when the pair meet in Al Rayyan on Tuesday.
“We’ve already made history by reaching the last 16, but we want more,” he stated. “To eliminate Spain, that would create history in this World Cup, and in our country’s footballing story.
“We want to make our people happy. We are thoroughly prepared. We have got better and better with each passing game, and I’m sure we’ll be in good shape.”
2 – In Morocco and Senegal, two African sides have made it past the group stage of a #FIFAWorldCup for just the second time (Algeria and Nigeria in 2014). Morocco are the first African side to finish top of their group since Nigeria in 1998. Duo. pic.twitter.com/HyoTHFNvle
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) December 1, 2022
Amid a World Cup that has already delivered shock results, Morocco’s victory over Belgium remains a major one – but Bounou, who plays his club career in LaLiga with Sevilla, knows Luis Enrique’s side will be a different beast.
“Spain will force us to be at our best,” he added. “It’s a very competitive game, one which will come down to the finer details. We have to be prepared for that.”
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