Morocco 0-2 South Africa: Four BIG lessons as Makgopa & Mokoena fire Bafana to AFCON quarter-finals

Morocco 0-2 South Africa: Four BIG lessons as Makgopa & Mokoena fire Bafana to AFCON quarter-finals
Credit: Icon Sport

Bafana Bafana team of South Africa advanced to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with a hard-fought victory over 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco in the Round of 16.

Orlando Pirates‘ forward Evidence Makgopa and Mamelodi Sundowns' Teboho Mokoena were the men who sealed the spot in the last eight for Hugo Broos‘ side.

Makgopa put South Africa ahead in the 57th minute to stun the Atlas Lions. Morocco had a chance to draw themselves back into the game from the penalty spot but Achraf Hakimi fluffed his effort to the dismay of the North Africans.

But just when it looked like the game will end that way, the Atlas Lions were reduced to ten men as Sofyan Amrabat got his marching orders deep into added time to still add more drama in the next minutes.

And shortly, the icing on the cake came just seconds later as Mokoena doubled South Africa's lead to send the 1996 AFCON champions to the last eight!

These are four big lessons taken from the encounter!

Four lessons from Bafana Bafana's big win over Morocco

Evidence Makgopa silenced his doubters

The Orlando Pirates' star has been at the end of harsh criticism from fans in South Africa who felt he hasn't lived up to expectations in the tournament.

Evidence Makgopa in action for Bafana
Credit: Icon Sport

Makgopa had failed to have a shot on target for Broos' side after three AFCON games but he did win a penalty in the loss to Mali which Percy Tau failed to convert. So, fans started asking questions about his contribution to the team.

However, when the team desperately needed a goal against Morocco, it was the 23-year-old forward who delivered to silence his doubters, scoring arguably the biggest goal of his international career yet which ensured South Africa won the Atlas Lions.

Morocco have themselves to blame

Regragui's men have nobody to blame after they failed to beat Bafana Bafana. The AFCON tournament favourites were the better team on the day but couldn't direct their shots on target with just two from 13 attempts.

The biggest failure on the night was Achraf Hakimi who could have restored parity for the Atlas Lions but instead sent his effort high enough to hit the woodwork. The team's chances from there reduced and with a red card to Amrabat at one goal down, their fate was sealed.

Bafana Bafana stood tall

Broos' men recorded the biggest upset of the AFCON tournament so far following their precise 2-0 win over Morocco. But the victory won't have been possible had the team not stood strong to deny Regragui's men in many occasions.

Bafana sat deep and defended with their lives when it mattered, they also went forward to cause the needed damage, scoring from two of their three shots on target.

Ronwen Williams was at his best for Bafana Bafana

The Mamelodi Sundowns' shot-stopper was at his brilliant best for South Africa in the entire game. Williams was so pivotal in the win that he was able to make two big saves to deny Morocco.

The 32-year-old who has made South Africa's gloves his very own, coordinated the defense in front of him and together they were able to keep their third clean sheet of the tournament.

If Williams keeps up his form, Bafana can go all the way especially now that they've slaughtered the pre-tournament favourites.

What's next for Bafana Bafana?

South Africa will battle Cape Verde in the last eight for a place in the semi-finals.

The clash will take place next Saturday, 3 February 2024.

This article was most recently revised and updated 6 months ago

Joseph is a freelance writer who spends most of his time writing engaging football contents. Based in Nigeria, Joseph is a die-hard Real Madrid fan with over 8 years experience in the sports betting space. He has covered football match previews, predictions, and news across leagues in Africa and Europe.