World Cup: Mystery of 'disappearing' Morocco goalkeeper solved

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 27: Yassine Bounou of Morocco speaks to match officials prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Belgium and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Yassine Bounou speaks to match officials prior to the World Cup match between Belgium and Morocco. (Getty Images)

Confusion surrounded the Morocco team before their World Cup shock win over Belgium on Sunday when the their starting goalkeeper appeared to mysteriously disappear shortly before kick-off.

Yassine Bounou was named on the teamsheet and had lined up alongside his team-mates for the national anthems just before the start of the match.

He then briefly spoke to coach Walid Regragui, who then embraced him and turned to his reserve goalkeeper.

Munir El Kajoui then entered the fray in time for the pre-match team photo before keeping a clean sheet in the surprise 2-0 win over the much-fancied Belgians.

Morocco's goalkeeper #01 Yassine Bounou (C) sings their national anthem ahead of the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group F football match between Belgium and Morocco at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on November 27, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Yassine Bounou, middle, sings their national anthem ahead of the start of the match. (Getty Images)

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Regragui revealed afterwards that his starting goalkeeper “didn’t feel right” and asked to be replaced.

He told beIN Sports: "He took a whack against Croatia, he was unsteady.

"We tried until the last moment but after the warm-up, just before the match, he did not feel good and he had the honesty to give way to someone else.

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"If you want to be in my squad you have to be 100 per cent and Yassine understood that and gave up his place to Munir, who had a great game."

The late change caught the BBC commentary team off guard for a majority of the first-half.

BBC commentator Guy Mowbray was forced to issue an on-air apology before half-time.

“One thing I should have noticed earlier on, I apologise for, is a change in goal for Morocco at the start,” said Mowbray.

Romain Saiss , Zakaria Aboukhlal , Abdelhamid Sabiri , Munir El Kajoui , Toby Alderweireld  during the World Cup match between Belgium vs Morocco, in Doha, Qatar, on November 27, 2022. (Photo by Foto Olimpik/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Munir El Kajoui, background, celebrates at the end of the surprise win over Belgium. (Getty Images)

“Remember at the start when we saw the goalkeeper running on? Having seen his number, it's number 12, El Kajoui, in goal. Munir El Kajoui.”

Bounou, 31, plays for Spanish outfit Sevilla and played in Morocco's opening 0-0 draw with Croatia. He was reported to have an eyesight issue ahead of the Belgium game.

Goals from Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal were enough to hand Morocco a key victory as the World Cup shocks continued at the weekend.