Bafana Bafana stunned Africa’s number-one-ranked side Morocco with a 2-0 win in their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations last-16 clash at the Laurent Pokou Stadium on Tuesday evening.
After a 2-0 loss to Mali, 4-0 win over Namibia and a 0-0 draw against Tunisia – South Africa finished runners-up in Group E to book their last-16 spot against Morrocco.
Africa’s number one-ranked side won Group F with a 3-0 win over Tanzania, 1-1 draw against DR Congo and a 1-0 win over Zambia.
What was expected pre-match, was delivered in the opening half in extremely humid conditions in San Pedro, an evenly fought affair. Still, the North Africans showed more glimpses of quality with the abundance of talent across the top leagues in Europe.
Walid Regragui’s side looked the more likely to open the scoring with Amine Adli coming closest but saw his chance spurned when getting in through on goal with only Ronwen Williams to beat.
Hugo Broos’ charges paid no mind to their close calls and at half time they were very much in with a chance – in which their conservative approach eventually paid off with their traditional short passing play.
Magkopa was set through inside the Moroccan area for the first time in the game and made no mistake beating Yassine Bonou with a clinical finish.
It brought out a wave of attacks from the North Africans, who were the last nation from their region in the competition and chasing their first AFCON title since 1976.
And they had a golden chance to draw level in the final minutes when Mothobi Mvala was punished for a handball inside the area after VAR review.
Achraf Hakimi, the poster-boy of Moroccan football stepped up and skied it against the cross bar of Ronwen Williams’ goal.
Spurned on by the miss, Bafana produced a defensive masterclass for the ages, before Teboho Mokoena’s stunning late free-kick doubled the advantage in what was a historic evening as they restored the pride of the once-feared football nation in African football.