Key After limping off in tears during Morocco’s last-16 victory over Spain, defender Nayef Aguerd faces a race against time to recover in time for Saturday’s World Cup quarterfinal match against Portugal.
Aguerd has been a key member of Morocco’s surprise run to the last eight, making it the first Arab nation to do so. Team officials said Aguerd will need extensive treatment for a suspected thigh injury before they can determine whether he will be ready for the weekend.
When he was removed off the pitch toward the end of the 90 minutes against Spain, the center back was inconsolable. After extra time, Morocco managed to hold out for a scoreless tie before winning the penalty shootout that followed the game.
After joining West Ham United from French club Stade Rennais for approximately 30 million pounds ($36.50 million), the 26-year-old has struggled with injuries this season.
After having surgery for an ankle injury sustained in a preseason friendly against Rangers, he returned to play in a League Cup game last month before seeing action for 75 minutes as a substitute in West Ham’s final Premier League match against Leicester City on November 12.
After the physical strain of the Spain victory, Morocco offered their players a second day of rest on Thursday.
Sofyan Amrabat, a midfielder, revealed after Tuesday’s victory in a tearful television interview that he played despite having a back injury.
“I was working with the physio until three o’clock in the night trying to do all I could to play. In the end, I had to have an injection to play. I just couldn’t let those guys and my country down,” he said.
Romain Saiss, the captain of Morocco, struggled against Spain toward the end and received bandages but still managed to win the game.
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