Key Morocco defender Nayef Aguerd faces a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Portugal after he limped off in tears during the last-16 win over Spain.

Aguerd has been one of the stalwarts of Morocco's surprise run to the last eight – the first Arab country to do so – but faces intense treatment on a suspected thigh injury before they know if he will be ready at the weekend, team officials said.

The centre back was distraught when he was forced off the field near the end of the 90 minutes against Spain. Morocco went on to hold out for a goalless draw after extra time and then won the post-match penalty shootout.

The 26-year-old has battled with injury this season after signing for West Ham United from French club Stade Rennais for about 30 million pounds ($36.50 million).

He suffered an ankle injury in a pre-season friendly against Rangers and had surgery, coming back last month and playing a League Cup match before getting 75 minutes off the bench in West Ham's last Premier League game against Leicester City on Nov. 12

Morocco gave their players time off for a second successive day on Thursday after the physical exertion of the Spain win.

Midfielder Sofyan Amrabat played with a back injury, he said after Tuesday’s victory in a tearful television interview.

"I was working with the physio until three o'clock in the night trying to do all I could to play. In the end, I had to have an injection to play. I just couldn't let those guys and my country down,” he said.

Morocco captain Romain Saiss was also struggling towards the end against Spain and was bandaged up but completed the match.

($1 = 0.8218 pounds)

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)