CPL T20 2023

Hijab-clad Nouhaila Benzina creates history as Morocco stun South Korea

In a historic moment at the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sunday, Morocco defender Nouhaila Benzina made headlines as she became the first player to wear a hijab, a headscarf, during the tournament. Her remarkable presence on the field coincided with Morocco’s stunning 1-0 victory over South Korea at the Hindmarsh Stadium.

This remarkable triumph marked the first-ever victory at the Women’s World Cup for debutants Morocco, which also dealt a significant blow to South Korea’s chances of progressing. Despite being 55 places below South Korea in the women’s rankings, Morocco showed their determination early in the match, securing their first-ever World Cup goal in the sixth minute through striker Ibtissam Jraidi.

The breakthrough moment came when Hanane Ait El Haj delivered a cross from the right, and Jraidi executed a deft glancing header that found the net at the far post.

South Korea’s Park Eun-sun had a chance to level the score with a diving header, but her effort narrowly missed the target, much to the relief of Morocco’s goalkeeper, Khadija Er-Rmichi.

Throughout the match, 33-year-old Er-Rmichi, who had conceded six goals in Morocco’s group opener against Germany, was hardly tested by the South Koreans, who struggled to create opportunities and failed to register a shot on target. The Moroccan defense, bolstered by Nouhaila Benzina’s crucial interventions, stood firm, frustrating the Asian side’s attacks.

Benzina, in addition to her defensive prowess, nearly scored herself from a set-piece with a powerful volley that went over the bar.

South Korea’s Casey Phair, who at 16 became the youngest player in Women’s football World Cup history in their opening game, had a chance to equalize late in the match but fired wide, leaving her team at the bottom of the group.

With this win, Morocco joins Germany and Colombia with three points each ahead of their respective matches later on Sunday. South Korea, on the other hand, faces elimination unless Germany avoids defeat in their match. This historic victory and Nouhaila Benzina’s groundbreaking presence on the field will undoubtedly be cherished as a moment of progress and inclusivity in women’s football.

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