The story of Yassine Bounou, the Canadian Boy, the No.1 Goalkeeper of the Moroccan National Team

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1NEWS – When moving to Sevilla, Yassine Bounou realized that the competition for the No.1 jersey would be fierce and he used the sacred number as his motivation to succeed at club and country.

After playing for Atletico Madrid’s reserve team, Bounou has begun to showcase his qualities in La Liga, demonstrating exactly why he deserves to be first choice for both club and country.

The Moroccan international is now hoping to impress on his international duty in the second round of Africa’s qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup with the Atlas Lions taking on Sudan on September 2.

Although coach Vahid Halilhodzic and his coaching staff are confident of their chances in a Group I that also includes Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, the Sevilla keeper says they need to show respect and focus in all their matches.

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“Games are usually difficult in Africa,” Bounou told FIFA.com.

“There are no bad national teams out there and they have all improved a lot in recent years, both tactically and technically. We are well aware that it will not be easy, especially away from home. We have to be ready to fight against every team, without exception.”

“We can still get better as a squad. We can be solid at the back, and we have good players in attack, defense and midfield.”

From Wydad to Seville

After starring in the Moroccan youth team, Bounou won his first full appearance in 2013. Calls continued, including trips to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and Russia 2018, though always as a substitute for Mounir Al Mohammadi.

“That’s the coach’s decision,” said Bounou.

“We have to play well for our club to get a place in the national team. I have never turned down an opportunity to play for my country. In fact, I feel proud every time I represent Morocco.”

After starting his career with giants Wydad Casablanca, the 30-year-old goalkeeper then took his career to new heights in 2019, when he joined Sevilla on a permanent contract. The player, who is now familiarly called Bono, impressed with the Andalusian team during the previous loan period, the 2019/2020 season.

“I always give my all, with the same mindset,” said Bounou.

“Every player faces defining moments that can change the course of their careers, and that’s what happened with me. I’m always ready to do my best, and when I get the chance, I show what I can do. Hard work is the secret of success. I’m happy to be at a club where I can play against some big teams and win everything I’ve won up to now, but I grew up with Wydad of Casablanca, a club that will always be in my heart. It’s a part of me and I had the most beautiful moment of my life there.”

The Moroccan goalkeeper who was born in Montreal, Canada, played an important role for Los Nervionenses in the 2019/2020 Europa League victory.

“It was the high point of my career but it is time to move on from that now. I am still improving on a technical and tactical level and I am determined to do my best this season,” recalls Bounou.

The hunt for prestigious titles

Bounou has faced several obstacles to get this far. Although the language of football is the same in every stadium, things are a bit different far from the playing field. Like many African players moving to Europe, he found it difficult to adapt.

“It’s always difficult for African players when they arrive in Europe,” he explained.

“When we come here, we try to find things that are similar to where we come from and meet people who make us feel comfortable. I’ve been through tough times, but it’s made me stronger. We have to adapt to the European mentality and make a big effort to get the same wave as the other players and achieve good results.”

Youssef En-Nesyri’s partner will join Morocco at the end of this month, and will draw on his experience at Russia 2018 and help his country reach the World Cup finals for the sixth time.

“We did well in Russia, but we didn’t have the necessary experience to get the results we needed,” said the 28-cap Moroccan international.

“We hope to capitalize on that now for the next few competitions.”

The goalkeeper who has a height of 1.92 meters also wants his country to be able to talk a lot at other tournaments, especially in the Africa Cup of Nations.

“My goal now is to make it with Morocco to the World Cup in Qatar. And I also want to do well at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon (in January 2022) because this is a special tournament for us.”

(muflih miftahul kamal/muf)

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