Khalid Boutaib of Morocco
Wednesday Nov 08, 2017. 18:30
Moroccan striker Khalid Boutaib says scoring a hat-trick against Gabon in their previous 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier brought hope of reaching Russia.
The Atlas Lions are close to securing a ticket to the global showpiece, but will need a draw against a star-studded Cote d'Ivoire side on Saturday.
Although their hopes were not so bright in the opening stages of the campaign, Boutaib's hat-trick against the Panthers last month kept Morocco’s chances alive, leaving them needing a draw in Abidjan to qualify for Russia 2018.
“We absolutely wanted to beat Gabon at home to tackle the last match in Abidjan with a chance to qualify," Boutaib told FIFA.com.
"There was a lot at stake because the Gabonese had to win if they wanted their chances to stay alive. We took advantage of the Mali draw and now we are in a good position.
"To score three goals, in a game as important as the one against Gabon and in the Casablanca stadium, where there is a great atmosphere, was a great moment.
"I felt a lot of joy and pride. I had already scored once in the 6-0 victory against Mali at the end of August. But these three goals allowed us to take three points and lead the group.”