Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou mysteriously disappeared before kickoff of his team’s shocking 2-0 World Cup win over Belgium on Sunday. Bounou lined up with the Morocco team for the national anthems then went to speak to coach Walid Regragui, who embraced him and turned to speak to his reserve keeper. Munir El Kajoui then ran onto the field in time to be included in the pre-match team photo and didn’t allow a goal as Morocco beat second-ranked Belgium.
While there was no immediate explanation of Bounou’s absence from the Morocco team or match officials at Al Thumama Stadium, Moroccan TV channel 2M said on its official Twitter account that he had felt dizzy right before kickoff and asked to be replaced. The 31-year-old Bounou, who was born in Canada, is Morocco’s No. 1 goalkeeper and plays for Spanish club Sevilla. He played in Morocco’s 0-0 draw with Croatia in the opening round of group games. Images from the stadium showed Bounou slumped over with his hands braced on his knees.
The last minute change of keeper left many fans puzzled, while El Kajoui was thrown right into the fire with Belgium threatening to score in the fourth minute. Belgium captain Eden Hazard had set up Michy Batshuayi, but his shot from a tight angle was calmly stopped by El Kajoui. Incidentally, BBC commentators took 38 minutes to notice Morocco changed goalkeepers just before kick-off and repeatedly called Munir Mohamedi the wrong name.