After finishing fourth at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Morocco was one of the favorites to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. The Atlas Lions top their group with seven points, but that didn’t matter in the knockout stages.
In their Round of 16 contest, Morocco faced South Africa on Tuesday, and Bafana Bafana opened the scoring. Then, Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi had a chance to level the contest on a penalty kick shot. However, the 25-year-old would miss.
South Africa scored the insurance goal in stoppage time to win 2-0 and send Morocco out of the competition. On Wednesday, Hakimi went on the platform X, formerly Twitter, and shared his emotions on missing the pivotal penalty kick.
“Today is a very difficult and sad day for our elimination,” Hakimi wrote on the social media outlet. “I want to apologize for the penalty. I took the responsibility to help the team, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I want to thank all the Moroccan people for their support, especially all the people who came to Ivory Coast.
“We will rise again and come back stronger for the future! Insha’Allah. Forever Morocco! And good luck to the South African national team for the rest of the competition.”
Aujourd'hui est un jour très difficile et triste pour notre élimination. Je tiens à m'excuser pour le penalty, j'ai pris la responsabilité d'aider l'équipe, mais malheureusement cela n'a pas fonctionné. Je tiens à remercier tout le peuple marocain pour son soutien, en particulier… pic.twitter.com/Q9IP5FMYXY
— Achraf Hakimi (@AchrafHakimi) January 31, 2024
Morocco will now have to focus on qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and look ahead to the 2025 AFCON, which will be held on home soil. There, they’ll be under the pressure of winning the tournament.