FIFA World Cup: Morocco striker Aboukhal excited at prospect of playing Croatia in third place match

Morocco striker Zakaria Aboukhal says he is relishing the prospect of taking on Croatia on Saturday, as the Atlas Lions seek to secure a third-place finish at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The 22-year-old Aboukhlal is one of 14 players in Morocco’s 26-man World Cup squad to be born outside the country, but who have chosen to represent their parents’ homeland.

Aboukhlal was born in the Netherlands and represented that country at U17, U18, U19 and U20 levels, before opting to play for Morocco in November 2020.

He has made four appearances in this World Cup, scoring in the 2-0 win against Belgium, and looks set to start against Croatia, reports Xinhua.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s match, the striker, who joined Toulouse from AZ Alkmaar in the summer, said the World Cup experience had been “amazing”.

“It is a dream for me to play in a World Cup and I am 22 years old now, so to play in a World Cup and score, like I say, it was my biggest dream,” he said.

Many believe the third-place playoff is an unnecessary obligation for sides that would much rather go home after getting so close to the World Cup final only to fall at the final hurdle, but Aboukhlal doesn’t agree.

“We are fighting for third place, which is something that nobody expected, but it is like a dream coming true,” he insisted.

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