Having cruised through their group, Morocco were expected to seal their progression to the quarterfinals of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations with a comprehensive victory over South Africa on Tuesday. They’d have to do it without Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal though, with both ruled out with injuries.
MAR: Bounou, Hakimi, Aguerd, Saïss, Mazraoui, Ounahi, S Amrabat, Amallah, Adli, En-Nesyri, Ezzalzouli
RSA: Williams, Mudau, Kekana, Mvala, Modiba, Mokoena, Sithole, Morena, Zwane, Tau, Makgopa
Morocco had the early spells of possession, but the first major chance of the game would fall in favour of South Africa. Teboho Mokoena took a speculative shot from distance, which had an awkward bounce to it, causing problems for Yassine Bounou in goal.
There was little action to get the crowd off their feet in the first half, with Morocco having a few deflected efforts and South Africa heading over.
But in the 57th minute, Evidence Makgopa put South Africa in front to the shock of the Moroccan fans. Played through on goal by Themba Zwane, the forward did the rest of the work – slotting it past the outstretched Bounou.Embed from Getty Images
Ten minutes from time, El-Kaabi had his shot blocked by the outstretched arm of South African defender Mothobi Mvala, resulting in an eventual penalty after a VAR check. Achraf Hakimi stepped up and there was an assumption he would net, but it wasn’t to be as the PSG star struck the woodwork.
In stoppage time, Morocco’s task of getting an equaliser was made tougher when Sofyan Amrabat received a straight red card for taking out Mokoena who was through on goal – thus conceding a free-kick in the process.
Directly from this free-kick, South Africa put the nail in the coffin and netted a second. Having won the free-kick himself, Mokoena whipped the ball into the top corner – and despite Bounou getting a hand to it, it wasn’t enough to keep the ball out of the net.
South Africa produced one of the the biggest upsets of the tournament thus far, and will use this as motivation as they prepare to face Cape Verde in the quarterfinal. The Bafana Bafana were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2019.