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Morocco goalkeeper causes World Cup confusion after appearing to be subbed before kick-off

Morocco left many baffled during their World Cup clash with Belgium on Sunday after starting goalkeeper Yassine Bounou seemingly disappeared just moments before kick-off.

The African side were attempting to follow-up their respectable 0-0 draw with Croatia with victory against Roberto Martinez 's men at the Al Thumama Stadium. One man who initially remained in the starting line-up from that game was Sevilla stopper Bounou.

The 31-year-old, the usual first-choice for his country, was not a particularly surprising presence on the teamsheet. Things appeared to be going to plan with the 47-capped stopper lining up in the tunnel and then taking part in the pre-match rendition of his country's national anthem.

However, when it came to the team photo, Bounou disappeared to have a conversation with the bench before Munir El Kajoui then appeared for the photo call itself. There was also a big delay to the traditional pre-match handshakes between captains - Bounou usually assuming that responsibility.

It remains to be seen quite what the problem was for Bounou. A statement from the Morocca FA read: "Munir El Kajoui replaces Yassine Bounou for this match against Belgium."

Despite that, the mystery was then added to even further. Substitute keeper, El Kajouri had actually been included on FIFA’s official lineups list over an hour before kick-off.

Morocco players line up for their national anthem (


Getty Images)

The change caused chaos for broadcasters with the BBC in particular suffering. Guy Mowbray was talking viewers through the match and was stating up until the 38th minute of the tie that Bounou was still between the sticks before he was forced to stage an apology.

Talking during the first-half, he said: "One thing I should have noticed earlier on, I apologise for, is a change in goal for Morocco at the start. Remember at the start when we saw the goalkeeper running on? Having seen his number, it’s number 12, El Kajoui, in goal. Munir El Kajoui.

"I can see his number now. Looks similar to Bounou to me. We’re trying to find out what happened to him.

Yassine Bounou led Morocco out vs Belgium (


Getty Images)

"Think he might have been taken ill just before the match and that’s why there was that little delay when we were waiting for the Morocco team photo and then the shaking hands with Eden Hazard. He’s keeping a clean sheet. Mine is ruined in every sense."

The change did not appear to affect Morocco too severely as they kept Martinez's men at bay throughout the majority of the first-half as they restricted the Europeans to just one shot on target.

Morocco could have actually claimed the lead as Hakim Ziyech 's free-kick found the net just before the break but VAR ruled out the strike due to a marginal offside.