Yassine Bounou, the goalkeeper for Morocco, unexpectedly vanished before the start of his team’s surprise 2-0 World Cup victory over Belgium on Sunday.
Bounou waited in line with the Moroccan team for the play of the national anthems. Then approached Walid Regragui, who hugged him before turning to address his backup goalie. Then, Munir El Kajoui prevented a goal as Morocco defeated second-ranked Belgium. He sprinted onto the field in time to be in the pre-match team photo.
Although Bounou’s absence from the Moroccan team and match officials at Al Thumama Stadium went without an immediate explanation. Moroccan TV channel 2M claimed on its official Twitter account that he had complained of feeling queasy just before kickoff and asked to be replaced.
Bounou waited in line with the Moroccan squad for the play of the national anthems. After the anthems, Bounou approached Walid Regragui, who gave him a hug before turning to talk to his backup goalkeeper. Then, Munir El Kajoui prevented a goal as Morocco defeated second-ranked Belgium. He sprinted onto the field in time to be in the pre-match team photo.
The mysterious exchange was explained by Regragui after the game.
He asked if we should substitute him and came to me (after the anthems), according to Regragui.
The No. 1 goalkeeper for Morocco is 31-year-old Bounou. He was born in Canada and currently plays for Sevilla in Spain. He participated in the initial round of group play’s 0-0 tie between Morocco and Croatia.
A tweet from the Moroccan Football Federation shortly after beginning simply stated: “Munir El Kajoui replaces Yassine Bounou for this match against Belgium,”. Providing no apparent explanation for the late substitution.
Bounou was captured in images from the stadium hunched over and bracing his hands on his knees.