Khune inspires Bafana to quarters
South Africa fought back twice against a determined Morocco side to finish top of Group A as they drew 2-2, thanks to goals from May Mahlangu and Siyabonga Sangweni, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, while Morocco head home earlier than expected.
Morocco v South Africa - Text Commentary Highlights
The stakes were at an all time high for both teams as South Africa needed to claim just one point to ensure their spot in the quarterfinals, while Morocco had it all to play for and needed to grab their first three points of the tournament to keep their chances alive.
With Bafana’s first success coming in a 2-0 win over Angola mid-week, Gordon Igesund opted to not break up a winning formula and stuck with the exact same line-up which turned out four days prior.
The Atlas Lions got the game underway and they immediately showed a sense of urgency and desire to swing the game in their favour.
They threatened on a number of occasions early on, seeing them force Itumuleng Khune to rush off his line, before Bongani Khumalo had to deal with a threatening set-piece – all within the opening eight minutes of the encounter.
Their persistence paid off when they stunned the hosts by grabbing the lead in the 10th minute of the game from a headed strike by Issam El Adoua, which left Khune rooted to the spot.
The Moroccan defender’s strike was the first goal the Bafana squad had conceded in the tournament so far.
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South Africa were certainly showing their weaknesses in defending corners and Morocco came close twice off that type of set play.
Chahir Belghazouani forced Khune to push the ball around his near post, before El Adoua rose above everyone else again and headed it wide of goal, just before the 20-minute mark.
When Bafana finally managed to string some passes together, Bernard Parker’s shooting boots were misfiring as he struck a snapshot which glanced across the face of goal.
South Africa came out strong in the final minutes of the first 45 and it was thanks to Khune, who proved why he is deserved of the No 1 jersey.
The shot-stopper ran 15 yards off his line to charge down a Kamel Chafni run, seeing him stop the ball in between his legs.
The second half began in a similar fashion to how the game had started, with Morocco dominating, and Igesund opted to bring on Thulani Serero in place of Katlego Mphela for the remaining 35 minutes.
Nadir Lamyaghri was then forced to make his first real save of the game and he did well to tip a Thuso Phala free kick over the bar.
At the other end, the Moroccan fans were left dejected when Youssef El Arabi could have made it 2-0 when he just had Khune to beat, but the ‘keeper did well once again and palmed the 60th-minute chipped shot away from goal.
Phala was Bafana’s main attacking threat on the set plays and he did so once again when he fired in a free kick which forced Lamyaghri to fingertip it out at the near post.
That effort seemed to give South Africa an extra bit of spark to their play and they finally found the breakthrough through a 70th-minute goal by May Mahlangu, following some great interlinking play between Sangweni and Tekolo Rantie.
The Swedish-based player received the ball on the edge of the box and did well to fire home a great strike into the top corner.
With Angola having taken the lead in their game against Cape Verde, Morocco were on the brink of elimination and their blushes were saved by a goal from Abdelilah Hafidi.
The midfielder, who was a late addition to Rachid Taoussi’s Afcon squad, was left unmarked in the box and managed to slot home a low strike into the bottom of the net, with nine minutes to be played.
There was to be a further twist in the tale, however, as South Africa scored just four minutes later.
Sangweni was the man of the moment when he received the ball on the edge of the area and, in a calm and collected fashion, curled the ball round the shot-stopper and into the back of the net to see the game off with a 2-2 scoreline.
Morocco: Lamyaghri – Achchakir, Kantari, Benatia, Barrada – El Arabi, Kaddioui (Hafdi 53rd), El Kaoutari, El Adoua – Chafni, Belghazouani (Bergdich 63’)
South Africa: Khune – Ngcongca, Sangweni, Khumalo, Masilela – Phala, Mahlangu (Dikgacoi 90th), Furman, Parker (Letsholonyane 76’) – Mphela (Serero 51st), Rantie