Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, popularly known as Bono, has shed light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding his absence from the crucial game against Belgium at the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Despite initially appearing for the national anthem, Bono had to be replaced by Munir Mohamedi due to the effects of a painkilling injection. In an interview with BBC World Service Sport, Bono shared his account of the incident, explaining the sequence of events that led to his absence from the game.
Bono disclosed that ahead of the game against Belgium, he had received an injection to alleviate pain caused by a previous incident during the match against Croatia. Aware that the effects of the painkiller would last between 60 and 90 minutes, Bono decided to warm up first and receive the injection just before kick-off. However, as the teams lined up for the national anthem, Bono started feeling increasingly unwell and confided in team captain Romain Saiss, expressing his discomfort.
Bono asked referee Cesar Ramos for clarification for changing players’s rules. The referee assured him that it was permissible for him to participate in the anthem and subsequently leave the field. Bono made the difficult decision to prioritize his health and withdrew from the game.
Morocco managed an unexpected 2-0 victory against Belgium with goals from Abdelhamid Sabiri and Zakaria Aboukhlal. Bono returned for the subsequent match against Canada, a game they won 2-1, securing their qualification for the knockout stages. It marked Morocco’s first time advancing from the World Cup group stage since 1986. The team continued their remarkable run, becoming the first African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final.
Bono played a crucial role in Morocco’s success, particularly during the last-16 shootout against Spain, where he saved two penalties. As a player for Sevilla in Spain, facing his Spanish counterparts brought both emotional challenges and joyous moments. Morocco’s journey included a 1-0 victory over Portugal in the quarter-finals, with Bono keeping his third clean sheet in four matches. However, their campaign came to an end with a 2-0 defeat to France in the semi-finals, leaving the team disappointed but proud of their accomplishments.
Bono is having a successful season this year following a historical semi finals with Morocco at the world cup in Qatar this past December 2022, and with Sevilla having reached the Europa League final where they will face Roma.