Khabib visits Morocco camp ahead of crucial World Cup playoff (PHOTOS)
The former UFC champion wished the African side well ahead of their match with Croatia
Russia’s former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has offered his best wishes to the Moroccan squad as they prepare for Saturday’s FIFA World Cup third-place playoff match with Croatia.
Morocco, the surprise package of the Qatar tournament, broke a glass ceiling by becoming the first African team and the first predominantly Muslim nation to qualify for the last four of a World Cup, defeating powerhouse teams Belgium, Spain and Portugal on their run to the semifinals.
The Atlas Lions’ dreams of lifting the famous trophy, however, were shattered by their 2-0 defeat at the hands of holders France on Wednesday, but they remain in contention to claim third place when they take on the other losing semifinalists, Croatia, at the Khalifa International Stadium.
And ahead of the crunch clash, UFC icon Khabib Nurmagomedov paid the squad a visit to wish them well ahead of what promises to be another hugely significant fixture for Morocco and African football as a whole.
“Good luck tomorrow Morocco,” wrote Khabib in an Instagram message late on Friday, alongside an image of him and the entire Moroccan squad.
This followed a note from Khabib in advance of their semifinal with France in which he said, “Let’s go Moroccan Brothers.”
Khabib’s support was noted by perhaps Morocco’s standout player throughout the tournament, Achraf Hakimi.
Thanks for the support @TeamKhabib pic.twitter.com/n1iW6j0C0r
— Achraf Hakimi (@AchrafHakimi) December 16, 2022
The Paris Saint-Germain defender was crucial to Morocco’s run to the semifinals which saw them concede just once (an own goal) before their loss to France.
And Hakimi, who posed for a photograph with Khabib on Friday, added his thanks to the Russian mixed martial arts star for his support throughout their outstanding run to the semis.
Khabib is a longtime football fan and counts the likes of Liverpool, Real Madrid and Galatasaray amongst his favorite clubs.
But, at least for Saturday, it seems the his loyalties will lie with a Moroccan side out to carve out one last piece of history for themselves to put a cap on what has been an outstanding World Cup for the North Africans.