Morocco star player Achraf Hakimi has sent Bafana Bafana a good-luck message for the rest of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) competition in Ivory Coast.
The message by Hakimi should rank as the biggest sportsmanship gesture from the ongoing Afcon. The right-back missed a late penalty during their last-16 round clash against Bafana on Tuesday. The 85th-minute miss could have turned the game around for Morocco but the tournament favourites ended up crashing out by 2-0 after SA scored again deep in injury time to clinch the fixture.
Speaking out for the first time, Hakimi apologised to his nation, saying that he takes full responsibility for the Morocco’s elimination from the tournament.
“Today is a very difficult and sad day for our elimination,” Hakimi wrote on his Instagram account on Wednesday evening.
“Apologies for the penalty. I took the responsibility of helping the team, but unfortunately it didn’t work.
“I want to thank all the Moroccan people for their support, especially all the people who came to Ivory Coast. We will rise and come back stronger from now on! God willing.”
Though he said he took the responsibility of taking the penalty, Hakimi looked hugely distressed as he took the kick. It was little surprise to see the ball strike the crossbar and fly out of the field.
Message of support for grieving teammate
The Paris Saint-Germain speedy defender went on to wish Bafana a good run for the rest of the Afcon. He also shared a message of support to teammate Amine Adli, who lost his brother before the start of the tournament.
“What about you, my brother Amine Adli after all you’ve been through, you came and gave it all for your country, we are so proud of you! I love you so much brother.
“Morocco is always! And good luck to the South African national team for the rest of the competition,” he added.
The 25-year-old Hakimi was born in Madrid, Spain, by parents who hailed from Morocco. Among his football honours is winning the 2018 Uefa Champions League with Real Madrid.
Perhaps Hakimi’s name served as inspiration for his amicable gesture towards his conquerors, Bafana Bafana. Achraf means “the most honourable one” in Arabic.
An honourable action of goodwill by an explosive footballer indeed.