2022 World Cup: Achraf Hakimi, the strong man of Morocco
The Moroccan right-back has asserted himself as one of the bosses of the Atlas Lions. Facing Portugal, he must face one of the biggest challenges of his young career.
By Adrian Mathieu
Shis smile and his celebration, in which he imitates a penguin, are completely out of step with the historical moment that Morocco is experiencing. With his successful performance against Spain (0-0, 3-0 tab), Achraf Hakimi qualified his country for the first time in the quarter-finals of a World Cup. At just 24 years old, the Paris Saint-Germain right-back has established himself as one of the bosses of the Atlas Lions. With his fierce defensive toughness and his impeccable state of mind, Hakimi shows the way to his people.
Before taking on Portugal this Saturday, the Parisian will be able to measure the progress made. From Real Madrid’s reserves to PSG via Inter Milan, his rise at the club has been meteoric. At the same time, he also asserted himself in his chosen one.
First convocation at the age of just 17 years old
Samy Mojtabi, journalist specializing in Morocco, confirmed the Point its course is in linearity. “He has a great popularity in Morocco, which has grown over the course of his career. The fans already know him when he played in the B team of Real Madrid. Very early, he chose to defend the colors of the Moroccan selection, this is a sign who does not lie. This immediately gave him a huge popularity rating, it is a pledge of seriousness and true love for the country. » Called up for the first time at only 17 years old in 2016, he quickly made a mark in the selection of the Maghreb.
But Hakimi did not escape some disappointments with the Atlas Lions: exit from the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, the surprise exit in the round of 16 of the CAN 2019 against Benin or even the end of the course in the quarter-finals of last CAN against Egypt in overtime. These failures accelerated his growth and now the Madrid native is on the front line. “At Dortmund and Inter, he was already a huge star in the country. But his move to PSG took him to another dimension, with constant development. Now, in the place he took in the media, he became number first, ahead of Hakim Ziyech who is coming off a complicated year at the club,” explained Samy Mojtabi.
In this Morocco 2022 almost impenetrable with only one goal conceded in this World Cup, Achraf Hakimi has fully developed. “In terms of his position, namely right side in a four-man defense, he does the job. He is in huge demand in the game plan of his coach Walid Regragui. Most of the time, transfers and promotions come from him, he also has a good connection with Ziyech. The fact that he was fifth in the penalty shootout against Spain is a strong sign. He gained confidence and didn’t hide from this team anymore. Now, he is indeed the leader of Morocco. »
Paris supporters are still waiting for the great Hakimi
If he shows a sparkling form in Qatar, Achraf Hakimi knows he will be as expected at PSG. Transferred for 68 million euros in the summer of 2021, the 24-year-old part has not yet given the full extent of his talent to the capital club. What if this successful World Cup is finally the click for him? “That’s everyone’s question,” said Samy Mojtabi. It was perfect for him to follow the club. He himself recently expressed discomfort by saying that at PSG, sometimes, it is not necessary to give him the ball. In Morocco, it was quite the opposite, he was empowered! Personally, I think that the accomplished world champion will give him the necessary momentum to succeed in Paris. »
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While waiting to find Christophe Galtier and the everyday life of Ligue 1, Achraf Hakimi faces one of the biggest challenges of his young career: to create another sensation by facing Portugal this Saturday. And why not meet his teammate and great friend Kylian Mbappé in the semi-finals, who did not fail to congratulate him in his hotel after his brilliant inspiration against Spain.