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Morocco gets ready to take on India with a silent prayer on its lips

Big day: Morocco will look to compartmentalise and set aside certain emotions to focus on the task at hand.

Big day: Morocco will look to compartmentalise and set aside certain emotions to focus on the task at hand.
| Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

At the Davis Cup World Group II tie against India here, Morocco was expected to draw energy from many a great feat achieved by its sportspersons in recent times.

Morocco’s men’s football team finished fourth at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the best ever for an African nation. Last month, Morocco’s women footballers qualified for the round-of-16 in their first ever appearance at the World Cup. Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali’s successful defense of his world 3000m steeplechase title just over a fortnight ago was the perfect icing.

Instead, Morocco’s tennis players will take to the court on Saturday with a certain heaviness in their hearts and a silent prayer on their lips. Last Friday’s devastating earthquake in a cluster of mountainous villages south of Marrakesh – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – has left nearly 3000 people dead. Morocco’s players had departed the country for India by then. They will now play in solidarity with those back home.

Tragic beyond words

“What happened was really tragic, with so many people losing close ones and their homes,” said Adam Moundir, one of Morocco’s players to touchdown in India. “It is very difficult to just focus on playing. But it is our job and duty to represent our country. What happened back home is in our thoughts. We will do our best.”

None from the Morocco contingent have been directly affected, confirmed Yassine Dlimi, a 20-year-old singles player on the roster. But empathy is not something the team is lacking.

“We were lucky. My family doesn’t live in the same place as where the earthquake happened and I think we are all good that way,” said Dlimi. “But it is really hard. We will play for them. We will try to win for our country and help in whatever way we can.”

Mental battle

Moundir felt it was necessary to compartmentalise and consciously set aside certain emotions to focus on the task at hand. But it is easier said than done.

“When you prepare for a game, you always have your routines – the practice, recovery etc.,” the 28-year-old said. “But there are always things that can distract you. In the end, it all comes down to what you do with the yellow ball.

“What I hope for is to honestly perform at our best. You cannot always control the outcome. But you can control the effort. We will be outnumbered in the stadium, but we will feel the support from those back home.”

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