Achraf Hakimi urges Moroccans to ‘help each other’ after earthquake

AP , Saturday 9 Sep 2023

The status of Morocco’s football game Saturday night as part of African Cup of Nations qualifying was uncertain after an earthquake struck the country, killing more than 800 people.

Morocco's defender Achraf Hakimi after losing to France in the FIFA World Cup semi-finals. Photo AFP

Morocco was scheduled to play Liberia at Adrar Stadium in Agadir.

The earthquake struck late Friday night. It has killed hundreds of people and damaged buildings from villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakech. Rescuers struggled to get through boulder-strewn roads to the remote mountain villages hit hardest.

Star player Achraf Hakimi offered his condolences.

“We are living a difficult moment for our fellow citizens. It is time to help each other to save as many lives as possible. My condolences to all who lost a loved one,” Hakimi wrote on Instagram.

The Confederation of African Football did not immediately respond to an email about the status of the game.

Agadir is roughly 170 kilometers (105 miles) southwest of the epicentre of Friday’s tremor — near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province.

The magnitude 6.8 quake was the hardest to hit Morocco in 120 years.

On Friday morning, the team arrived in Agadir and then trained at Adrar Stadium in the afternoon after coach Walid Regragui and captain Romain Saiss held a pre-match press conference.

The Atlas Lions made a historic run at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, becoming the first African team to reach the semifinals, where they lost to France.

Morocco has already qualified for the 24-team tournament, which begins in January in Ivory Coast.

The team was also scheduled to play a friendly match in France against Burkina Faso on Tuesday.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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