South Africa stun WC darlings Morocco at AFCON



Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena scored second-half goals as South Africashocked Morocco with a 2-0 victory to dump the World Cup semi-finalists out of the Africa Cup of Nations at the last-16 stage in San Pedro on Tuesday.

Morocco, who had Sofyan Amrabat sent off late on, were among the favourites at the tournament in the Ivory Coast, but their continental curse continues and they remain without a Cup of Nations title since 1976, this time undone in the muggy heat of the Laurent Pokou Stadium.

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"We could have maybe settled the game in the first half but, at this level, you get immediately punished for any chance you waste," Morocco coach Walid Regragui told said after the match. "The penalty hurt us a lot, and surely we didn't do everything that is required but I take full responsibility."

South Africa led in the 57th minute when midfielder Themba Zwane, so often the creative fulcrum of the side, slipped a pass through to tall striker Makgopa and he calmly slid the ball past goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, before Mokoena fired in a superb late free kick.

Morocco had a chance to level with the score at 1-0 when they were awarded a penalty, but Achraf Hakimi hit the crossbar and it will be South Africa who play Cape Verde in the quarter-finals in Yamoussoukro on Saturday.

South Africa will play Cape Verde in the quarterfinals in Yamoussoukro on Saturday.

South Africa, winners in 1996, have endured much hardship in continental competition over the last few decades and have not been past the quarterfinals since 2000, but put in a stoic defensive display to go with flashes of attacking quality to seal a famous win.

Morocco looked to suffer in the oppressive heat and were a far cry from the entertaining side that delighted at the World Cup in Qatar, missing on this occasion the attacking talents of injured playmaker Hakim Ziyech.

South Africa players celebrate after scoring a goal against Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations.
South Africa players celebrate after scoring a goal against Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations.


They could not break their opponents down, and even when gifted a clear penalty following a handball by defender Mothobi Mvala, Hakimi summed up their night by hitting the frame of the goal.

The first half was devoid of many clear-cut chances as South Africa took a cautious approach and played a containment game, keeping their structure and not throwing bodies into attack.

Mokoena forced a good save from Bounou with a shot from 30-yards, while Percy Tau headed wide from a corner.

But the best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes fell to Moroccan winger Amine Adli just before half-time. He delayed his shot from 10 yards and that allowed the covering defence to get across and close him down.

Once Makgopa had given South Africa the lead, they went even further into their shell, relying on the counter-attack.

Their second goal was a sublime free kick from dead-ball specialist Mokoena in the fifth minute of stoppage time as he smashed a shot into the back of the net after Amrabat had been red carded for a professional fou

Keywords: Africa Cup of Nations AFCON Ivory Coast

  Reader Comments

  • Dave David
    Happy for them
      Dave David   31/01/2024 04:36
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