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HomeOther CountriesMalaysiaMorocco's World Cup heroes who are mummy's boys - Free Malaysia Today

Morocco's World Cup heroes who are mummy's boys – Free Malaysia Today

Morocco’s World Cup magic potion, in part, is family love, with mothers taking centre stage.
The Moroccan marvel revolves around the vast sacrifices of parents, of love for country, of fear and joy, and of dreams that have come true.
Love for their mother has helped the heroes achieve the rare success as the first African nation to make the last four in Qatar after slaying European giants.
It is maternal support that will help power Morocco for a momentous battle against world champions France in the semi-final (Thursday, 3am Malaysia time).
The drove of supporters who have converged on Qatar are another force solidly behind Morocco to do the unthinkable of making the final, perhaps even winning the title.
Win or lose, the Morocco team have lifted the spirits of the African continent and the Arab nations, bringing people closer together and presaging a new order in world football.
The idea to involve players’ parents in the tournament was a deliberate morale-building strategy by head coach Walid Regragui.
Upon taking the job in August, he said: “Our success is not possible without our parents’ happiness.”
Regragui, whose mother Fatima is in Doha, said judging by Morocco’s performances, it appears to be working.
Their triumphs against Belgium, Spain and Portugal have ranked as major upsets at the tournament so far.
According to reports, Morocco’s base hotel occasionally feels like an adorable parent-run summer camp.
Proud parents of the players have gushed about their children and how they consider the “boys” in the squad as their own.
Hard as nails Morocco, whose very definition is “nothing is impossible”, have emerged as a team many neutrals are rooting for.
Backing for them has been helped by emotional scenes involving the players’ mothers, fathers, and sons, celebrating on the stands and on the pitch.
Their reassuring embrace of one another has given a whole new meaning to victory celebrations in the context of respect, family values, inspiration and collective joy.
Many have described these poignant moments as the most endearing images of World Cup 2022.
The hearts of many melted when right-back Achraf Hakimi and his mama Saida Mouto hugged and kissed on the stands, and attacking midfielder Sofiane Boufal danced with his mum on the sidelines.
Following his decisive spot kick in the penalty shootout win against Spain in the last 16, Hakimi rushed to the stands to plant a kiss on his mother’s forehead.
Their cuddle and subsequent cheek-pinch went viral across social media platforms after the 24-year-old devout Muslim posted a picture of them together captioned, “I love you, mom”.
Being labelled a “mama’s boy” might carry some measure of scorn, but it’s a wide net that invites us to reimagine what parents’ love means.
After Hakimi’s parents emigrated from Morocco to Spain, his mother worked as a maid to support his passion while his father sold fruit as a street vendor in Madrid.
Football changed their lives but even after having attained celebrity status as a professional footballer, and through his marriage to Spanish actress Hiba Abouk, Hakimi has not forgotten his roots.
Madrid-born Hakimi could have played for Spain, but chose to turn out for Morocco because of his parents.
The sight of Boufal and his sobbing mother adorably holding hands and dancing in circles, cheered on by a raucous crowd, was equally touching.
Boufal, who was born in France, said after the win over Spain: “My mum is the most important thing in my life.”
The other captivating family moments were: striker Youssef En-Nesyri emotionally hugging and kissing his father; Yassine Bounou playing with his son, who tried on his father’s huge goalkeeper gloves; and Hakimi dancing with captain Romain Saiss and his son.
Regragui ran to mummy in the stands after each game during Morocco’s unprecedented run to the semi-finals. His mother worked as a cleaner at Orly Airport in Paris to help him play football.
France-born Regragui was a hard-tackling defender who chose to represent the nation of his family, earning 45 caps.
Regragui, who took charge of the Morocco team in August, assembled the most nationally diverse team at the World Cup.
Fourteen of the 26 players were born in six different countries, making Morocco the most reliant on diaspora talent of the 32 nations competing in Qatar.
A staggering 137 players at this World Cup represent a country different from the country they were born in.
How Regragui seamlessly integrated his players, with different upbringings from a mishmash of birthplaces, into one coherent unit has become a big talking point at the tournament.
His explanation has been that the players wanted to show respect to their families, their heritage and their culture.
Midfielder Bilal el-Khannouss’ father put it crisply in expressing why his Belgium-born son chose to play for Morocco. “His heart spoke to him,” he said.
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