CAN 2024: South Africa knocks out Morocco and validates its place in the quarterfinals

South Africa eliminated Morocco (2-0) in the round of 16 after a very successful performance on January 30 at the Laurent Pokou stadium in San Pedro. After this victory against one of the big favorites of the competition, the South Africans will face Cape Verde in the next round.

South African players celebrate their second goal during the round of 16 match between Morocco and South Africa in San Pedro, January 30, 2024. © AP / Sunday Alamba

By: Farid Achache Follow


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From our special correspondent in San Pedro,

San Pedro said goodbye to the 34th edition of the


with a huge surprise, after this last ticket distributed for the quarters. The day before, the

Ivorians had defeated Senegal

, a major contender for the title. This evening, it was the Moroccans' turn to head out. A new disappointment in CAN for those who made an entire continent dream during the last World Cup in Qatar.

In the capital of the Bas-Sassandra district, the Moroccans had to do without Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal, both injured. Coach Walid Regragui chose Youssef En-Nesyri, accompanied by Amine Adli and Abdessamad Ezzalzouli in front. In defense, it was the return of Saïss in the axis with Aguerd, and Mazraoui on the left. In the middle, there was classic with Sofyan Amrabat, Selim Amallah and Azz-Edidine Ounahi. For South Africa, Hugo Broos returned the same eleven as against Tunisia. The Eagles of Carthage failed to take the lead against Bafana Bafana, and were eliminated in the group stage.

The Lions miss the mark

It was a bit of the same story for the Atlas Lions, who returned to the locker room without a single goal in the first period. Between Ounahi, well placed and who hesitated to strike (26th), the huge opportunity from Adli who got a little confused before shooting (45th) and Amallah who missed the target (45th+1), Walid's men Regragui were not rewarded.

Morocco had 45 minutes to find the solution and take the advantage. The last duel in CAN which dates back to 2019 was favorable to Romain Saïss' teammates during the third day of the group stage with a narrow score (1-0). Mbark Boussoufa broke the deadlock in the… 90th minute.

But the 2019 scenario was just a distant memory. In San Pedro, South Africa, considered outsiders, silenced the 19,000 spectators by opening the scoring thanks to Evidence Makgopa (57th). The Orlando Pirates player deceived Bounou with a low shot by opening his right foot.

At the end of the match, Morocco had the equalizer ball at their feet after a handball from Mothobi Mvala. Hakimi took the penalty, but the Parisian's ball hit the crossbar. In the 85th minute, Morocco was already on the verge of elimination. In stoppage time, the Lions had to do without Sofyan Amrabat, excluded, and attempt the miracle with ten men. But right after, it was the hammer blow again. South Africa doubled the lead with an unstoppable direct shot. Teboho Mokoena found Bounou's top corner (95th+5).

During the last CAN in Cameroon, Morocco was eliminated by Egypt in the quarter-final stage. Once again, the Atlas Lions are missing out. Clearly, this CAN in Ivory Coast is surprising.


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