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SPORTS UPDATE

Halilhodzic: Achraf Hakimi is a game-changer

Morocco head coach Vahid Halilhodzic has praised the outstanding abilities of Achraf Hakimi after his winner against Malawi booked their place in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

The Atlas Lions were trailing to Gabadinho Mhango’s stunning long-range strike as early as the seventh minute in their round-of-16 clash at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium on Tuesday.

But Youssef En-Nesyri restored parity on the stroke of half-time and Hakimi completed the comeback win with a sublime free-kick 20 minutes from time.

Halilhodzic believes the Paris Saint-Germain right-back is a special talent and described him as a game-changer, which the Flames experienced first hand this week.

“He is a key player. He can change the course of the game at any time,” the Bosnian tactician told CAFOnline.

“For me, he is one of the great talents and best players in the world in his position.”

Hakimi admits he doesn’t get to take a lot of set-pieces for PSG with the likes of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in the team, but was delighted to play his part for the North African giants, who face rivals Egypt in the last-eight on Sunday.

“I don’t shoot a lot of free kicks at PSG because we have better shooters, but I do my best and the main thing for me is to participate in the joy of Moroccans,” the 23-year-old was quoted as saying by CAFOnline.

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