Southampton’s record-setting Moroccan scored his best goal of the season before a kitchen-table injury – Blessing Sports News

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2022 WORLD CUP QUALIFICATIONS: Morocco will face Belgium, Canada and Croatia in the group stage, with former Premier League star Sofiane Boufal among their attacking talents.

Morocco coach Walid Regraghi is hoping his side can pull off a shock or two

As Morocco prepares for their World Cup opener against Croatia, much of the talk has been surrounding returning star Hakim Ziyech, but another experienced Premier League man has something to prove.

Sofiane Boufal began his English football adventure in 2016 when he signed for Southampton in a record £16m deal at the time. He arrived on the south coast after a season at Lille, but injuries and a change of manager made it difficult for the winger to establish himself.

However, a goal of the season win against West Bromwich Albion in 2017 still stands tall. Now in Angers, France, I will try to get rid of the damage to the kitchen table. It was the final nail in the coffin of his Saints career.

Born in Paris, Boufal began his career with Angers before scoring 11 goals for Lille in the 2015-16 Ligue 1 season. Gazelek’s hat-trick against Ajaccio helped Frederic Antonetti’s side qualify for Europe, while Boufal himself crossed the channel ahead of the Europa League campaign.

He scored Southampton’s best goal of the season in his first year, and went one better in 2017. A sensational solo performance against West Brom was regarded as one of the best in the Premier League that season, but he ended the game after Mark Hughes replaced Mauricio. Pellegrino as manager.

Boufal returned to St Mary’s after a loan spell at Celta Vigo in 2019 and has enjoyed a bit of a revival under Ralf Hasenhuttle. But after a fast start to the season, untimely injuries hampered his progress.

Sofiane Boufal made headlines in 2017 with a goal against West Brom

“Boufal hit his toe on the table at home. He hit his big toe,” Hasenhuttle said in November 2019. “It’s still a little bit swollen and I think it’s going to be a little difficult over the weekend, but next weekend, yeah.”

“It’s not broken or anything, but it’s very swollen, which is a problem,” Austria added. Boufal returned for a few more games, but another injury saw him play just once after the Project’s restart.

In the summer of 2020, he returned to former team Angers, who played in the French Ligue 1. Gerald Baticle’s side are bottom of the table with three-goal Bufal but will be happy to visit the World Cup. distraction.

The Moroccan team is captained by former Premier League player Romain Saiss

Boufal is not the only familiar face in Walid Regragui’s squad. Besiktas’ former Wolves defender Romain Saiss will captain the team, while West Ham’s Nayef Aguirre will be in defence, while Championship stars Ilias Cheir and Anas Zarouri are also in action.

Sevilla duo Bono and Youssef En-Nesiri have struggled in the Premier League recently, while midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri has made a handful of Premier League appearances for Huddersfield. But the other big story concerns Chelsea’s ex-Ajax star Ziyech.

The 29-year-old has more international goals than any member of Regragui’s squad, but was not selected for Morocco. Zieh missed the Africa Cup of Nations after falling out with former manager Vahid Halilhodzic, where the Atlas Lions reached the quarter-finals, but he is ready to return and make up for lost time.

Morocco was moments away from beating Spain at the 2018 World Cup

In 2018, the Moroccan national team was drawn against Spain, Portugal and Iran in a tough draw. They haven’t won a game yet, conceding just four times in three games, and were minutes away from stunning Spain in Kaliningrad.

This time, it will be another difficult draw, waiting for two semi-finalists from the last World Cup. They open against 2018 finalists Croatia before taking on Belgium and Canada, with a chance for revenge against Spain likely to remain in the last 16.

Morocco might not be favourites to progress, but their impressive qualifying run can give them reason to believe they can spring a surprise. They were the only African nation to win all six of their group games – scoring 20 times and conceding just once – and beat DR Congo 5-2 on aggregate in their play-off.

As in 2018, things won’t be easy for Morocco. Still, with talent and top-flight pedigree running through the team, they can’t be written off.

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