In a surprising turn of events, South Africa secured a spot in the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) by defeating Morocco 2-0 in Côte d’Ivoire. The match witnessed two crucial second-half goals from Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena, making a significant impact in the Ivorian coastal city of San-Pedro.
Makgopa broke the deadlock just before the hour mark, putting South Africa in the lead. Morocco had an opportunity to level the score five minutes from time with a penalty kick, but Paris Saint-Germain star Achraf Hakimi missed the chance, sending the ball off the top of the bar and over.
The North Africans’ misfortune continued as Sofyan Amrabat received a red card in stoppage time. Mokoena capitalized on the resulting free-kick, securing South Africa’s second goal and sealing their qualification for the quarterfinals.
This victory adds to the growing list of upsets in the current AFCON, with Morocco, World Cup semi-finalists in 2022, becoming the latest major casualty. South Africa will now face Cape Verde in the quarterfinals, scheduled to take place on Saturday in Yamoussokro.
The AFCON tournament has witnessed several surprises, with defending champions Senegal also being eliminated on penalties by hosts Ivory Coast, further shaping the unpredictable nature of the competition. Morocco, considered tournament favorites, aimed to build on their impressive World Cup run in Qatar by securing their second AFCON title, but they join the list of notable teams exiting the competition.