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AFCON 2023: South Africa sends Morocco home in shocking upset

For the first time since the 2013 edition, there will not be a representative from North Africa in the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations after South Africa stunned Morocco by a 2-0 score on Tuesday in San Pédro. Evidence Makgopa opened the scoring close to the hour mark and a brilliant Teboho Mokoena free kick confirmed defeat for Morocco, who failed to level in the 84th minute when Achraf Hakimi missed a penalty kick. South Africa will face Cape Verde for a spot in the semifinals on February 3 in Yamoussoukro.

It was a cruel twist of fate for Morocco, who appeared to be well in control of the match but continued to struggle with their finishing. The Atlas Lions showed more attacking intent but failed to create any clear opportunities against a South African defense that was compact and composed throughout. Bafana Bafana were limited to long range efforts from Mokoena in the first half and Morocco winger Abde Ezzalzouli had a goal disallowed for offsides.

The match continued to be a sleepy affair and when Makgopa opened the scoring in the 57th minute it came out of nowhere. Themba Zwane played a through ball to find the run of the Orlando Pirates striker who fired his finish past Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, a goal that many expected to be ruled offsides but was judged perfectly valid by a VAR review.

South Africa continued to defend well against an increasingly desperate Atlas Lions side but it appeared the goal Morocco was pushing for would finally come when an Ayoub El Kaabi shot attempt went off the outstretched arm of Bafana defender Mothobi Mvala. Hakimi stepped up to take the spot kick but rocketed his shot off the crossbar and over the goal of South Africa keeper Ronwen Williams.

Late on a counter attack from South Africa caught the Moroccan defense off guard and Mokoena was tripped by Morocco midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, who received a red card for being the last defender. Mokoena delivered a beautiful curling effort on the ensuing free kick to put Bafana Bafana beyond reach and leave Moroccan supporters in shock.

Highlights of the match are below.

Match Highlights

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