Sabiri admits Morocco aimed to beat Spain on penalties

Sampdoria midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri admits Morocco aimed to beat Spain on penalties in the World Cup Round of 16 but insists he is not fully fit yet: ‘I still feel pain..’

The 26-year-old scored a goal for his national team against Belgium in the group phase and converted a penalty kick in the shootout against Spain earlier this week, helping Morocco qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in history.

“I still haven’t realised, honestly, I am confused. Which stage have we reached?” he asked in an interview with Il Corriere Dello Sport.

“This is a historic moment for Africa and the Arab World. We are happy and we were convinced we could eliminate Spain. Our target was to reach the penalties and we made it.

“We didn’t come to Qatar to play just three games. Now we’ll face Portugal, trying to make the most of our qualities. Games last 90 minutes, sometimes more.”

Sabiri has been struggling with injuries with Sampdoria this term and is still not fully fit.

“I could have missed the World cup, but I worked hard. In Italy, many thought that the injury was not true, but the club knows the truth. I sent the images of my MRI scan to prove it. I haven’t played regularly at the World Cup because of this. I don’t feel well, I feel pain after 15 or 20 minutes, as it happened against Canada.

“However, when you represent your country at this level, you’d do anything to help. I would have taken the penalty kick [against Spain] even if I had had just a leg.”

The 26-year-old is contracted with Sampdoria until June 2025 but has been linked with leaving the club in the January transfer window.

“I don’t know, for now, I am a player for Sampdoria and I haven’t been told anything else.”

Sabiri began his career in Germany, playing in the academies of TSG Frankfurter Berg, KSV Klein-Karben, TuS Koblenz and SV Darmstadt.

He has scored two goals in 13 appearances across all competitions this season. Last summer, he joined the Blucerchiati from Serie B side Ascoli for €1m.