BLOW BY BLOW | Bafana glory! South Africans stun Morocco in Afcon last 16

30 January 2024 - 21:44
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Bafana Bafana's Maphosa Modiba challenges Youssef En Nesyri of Morocco in their Africa Cup of Nations last 16 clash at Stade Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro, Ivory Coast on Tuesday night.
Bafana Bafana's Maphosa Modiba challenges Youssef En Nesyri of Morocco in their Africa Cup of Nations last 16 clash at Stade Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro, Ivory Coast on Tuesday night.
Image: Weam Mostafa/BackpagePix

**** 90min + 11 and Full Time — MAR 0 RSA 2 - ****

Bafana Bafana have stunned Morocco! Bafana Bafana remain in the Nations Cup. The World Cup semifinalists pack their bags! Bafana Bafana will meet Cape Verde in Saturday's quarterfinal! And how far will they go now? How confident are they now?

What a night for Bafana, what a night for South African football, what a night for South Africa!!

Take a bow Hugo Broos! No Lyle Foster, no Lebo Mothiba, and Bafana Bafana have stunned Morocco to reach the Nations Cup quarterfinals!

90min + 5 — Goal! — MAR 0 RSA 2

GOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!! Goooalll!!!! Goal, Goal Goal!!!! The peerless Mokoena adds a second!!!!!!! 

The Sundowns man's superb, curling free-kick beats Bounou.

90min + 4

The second yellow card is rescinded by VAR, but the referee then awards a straight red: same result — Amrabat is off.

90min + 2

Morocco down to 10 men! Amrabat sees red (second yellow) as he clatters down Mokoena, who was charging onto a long ball. But VAR is considering it ...


Regulation time has passed, and we are into added time — the board has shown 10 minutes of stoppage time!


It's a miss!!!!! Hakimi skims the crossbar!!! Ronwen Williams was well beaten. Unthinkable! Does this see Bafana through to the quarterfinals?


Hakimi will take it ...


Yes, VAR awards the penalty to Morocco! Mvala booked.


Ounahi's ball across goal is to Al Kaabi who strikes onto the arm of Mvala in front of the goal line. VAR must give the penalty here!


Into the last 10 minutes! But there should be plenty of added time. Kekana is back on the field.


Limping Kekana has gone off for treatment to try to continue.


Amrabat's cross from the left finds sub Ayoub Al Kaabi, who heads a foot over.


Broos brings on Thapelo Maseko for Zwane. His energy could be crucial trying to keep the momentum from Morocco.

The Lions, of course, have tried to up the tempo since the goal but have been held to half-chances only so far.

Twenty minutes to go. How are the nerves out there South Africa?

57min — Goal! — MAR 0 RSA 1

GOOOOAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!! (Perhaps, if VAR let's it stand!). Sithole turns and feeds Themba Zwane, whose superb touch slips Makgopa through one-on-one to beat Bounou!!! 

And yes, the VAR let's it stand despite a hint of offside. Bafana have the lead! Bafana have the lead! Can the unthinkable happen in San Pedro?


Another let-off, a bit, perhaps. Abde Ezzalzouli goes down under the physical attention of Mudau on the left of the box — VAR rules no penalty.


Azzedine Ounani plays En Nesyri through on the right of the box and takes the return pass to blast over the bar. Best chance of the game so far. A let-off for Bafana.


We are back, as the second half gets under way.

**** — Half time — 0-0 - ****

Half time in the Ivory Coast in the final clash of the last 16 round and it's goalless. Morocco might be disappointed. They started looking really threatening, though without running away with anything as the Mamelodi Sundowns back four of Khuliso Mudau, Mothobi Mvala, Grant Kekana and Maphosa Mothiba mostly contained their attacks.

Then, as the midfield duo of Sphephelo Sithole, with the muscle; and Teboho Mokoena, with the brains, passing and strong running, got on the ball more, Bafana even wrested some of the advantage.

Some of the best half-chances fell in the direction of Makgopa. Perhaps Percy Tau and Themba Zwane, and probably Thapelo Morena, could just get into the game more and get some running in. Easier said than done against the World Cup semifinalists. Thapelo Maseko seems to have a role to play off the bench.

Importantly Morocco have only had one shot on goal. That's a big stat.

Squeaky bum time, and then some, in the second half as we wait to see how Morocco, and Bafana, respond.

45min + 4

That's the break. It's 0-0 at Stade Laurent Pokou.


A good chance to Morocco, or at least it should have been. The superb right-back Achraf Hakimi latches onto a loose ball given away by Bafana in their half and puts Amine Adli through on the right but the winger takes the ball too wide instead of shooting or passing.


A promising attack for South Africa ends with the ball at the feet of Makgopa, but the assistant has a flag up for offside.


It's a quite tense affair. Morocco certainly not, and increasingly not, it has to be said, having it all their own way in San Pedro. Some of their early zip and authority seems to be gone. Bafana growing in confidence. But these seven minutes to the break so crucial in keeping concentration — for both teams. Can South Africa sneak a goal even?


And it's a water break. Bafana might take it as minor, first, slight victory they reached half an hour without conceding. They have looked more confident than just trying to hold out, though, decently holding a good structure and absorbing pressure.

South Africans know very well, though — far too well — how capable North African teams are of using a solitary advantageous moment or pouncing on a slight error to grab a goal.


Bafana keeping nice and compact now, and for the last 10 minutes really, keeping something of a lid on their formidable opponents.


Remiss of me, your live blogger, to not have properly introduced myself ... it was a bit of a rushed start to the blog for technical reasons. Marc Strydom, TimesLIVE and Arena Holdings digital sports editor, foolishly stubborn diehard Bafana Bafana supporter and football writer of a good 25 years-ish now, and son of the KwaZulu-Natal soil (though he was born in Gqeberha, actually) is your blogger tonight.

A qualification, of course, is that I am not in the stadium in San Pedro, but in the Arena Holdings offices in Parktown. But I will bring you the action, and try to capture the atmosphere too. 

Go Bafana! 


After a stoppage as the ref had issues with his mic, Mokoena's corner is aimed at Mothobi Mvala, though the ball seems to come off Morocco midfielder Sofyan Amrabat and flies dangerously close to goal.

Bafana show signs of settling and crucially show the Atlas Lions it cannot necessarily be just one-way traffic.


Morocco looking like they can really edge themselves ahead as they turn up the tempo. But then it's that man in the middle, the dynamo, Teboho Mokoena, who finally gets some form of forward momentum for Bafana with a dipping shot from outside the box that has goalkeeper Yassin Bounou stretched.


Now Morocco are flexing their muscles somewhat. They earn a corner that is half-cleared by Evidence Makgopa, back in the box. The ball worked is back into the area and Youssef En Nesyri gets in, forcing a point-blank save from Ronwen Williams.


It's a fast-paced start. Fairly even, but the Moroccans show why they became Africa's first World Cup semifinalists (in Qatar in December 2022, for anyone who somehow missed that seismic event) with their super-sharp touches and how threatening they look going forward.


And the games is off in San Pedro.

Tuesday, January 30 — 9.35pm

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has made no changes to his starting XI for his team's Africa Cup of Nations last 16 clash against Morocco at Stade Laurent Pokou in San-Pedro, Ivory Coast on Tuesday night.

Then match kicks off at 10pm SA time.

Broos kept faith with his XI that did duty in Bafana's 0-0 draw against Tunisia in Korhogo on January 24 to end in second place in Group E and reach the knockout stages. 

Bafana Bafana XI: Ronwen Williams (capt.); Khuliso Mudau, Mothobi Mvala, Grant Kekana, Maphosa Modiba; Sphephelo Sithole, Teboho Mokoena, Themba Zwane, Thapelo Morena; Percy Tau, Evidence Makgopa

Morocco XI: Yassin Bounou, Achraf Hakimi, Naif Aguerd, Romain Saiss, Noussair Mazraoui, Azzedine Ounahi, Sofyan Amrabat, Selim Amallah, Amine Adli, Youssef En Nesyri, Abde Ezzalzouli


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