Morocco’s Afcon Dream Turns into Nightmare as South Africa Extends “Curse”
Morocco’s hopes of lifting their first Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) title in nearly five decades were shattered on Tuesday night, as they suffered a shocking 2-0 defeat to South Africa in the round of 16. The result extends a curious hoodoo for the Atlas Lions, who have now lost two of their last 13 matches – and both defeats have come at the hands of Bafana Bafana.
South Africa’s Clinical Finishing Punishes Morocco’s Wastefulness
Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena scored second-half goals for South Africa, who capitalized on Morocco’s profligacy in front of goal. Achraf Hakimi’s missed late penalty and Sofyan Amrabat’s red card in injury time only compounded the misery for the Atlas Lions.
Morocco’s “African Curse” Lingers
Despite reaching the World Cup semifinals in Qatar two years ago and boasting an impressive recent record, Morocco’s struggles at the Afcon continue. Their last title triumph came in 1976, and they have consistently fallen short in the continental showpiece since then. Head coach Walid Regragui even labeled their repeated failures an “African curse,” highlighting the team’s historical struggles in the tournament.
South Africa’s Giant-Killing Spree Continues
South Africa’s victory adds another chapter to their impressive run in the tournament. They had already stunned Morocco in the group stage, drawing 1-1, and their win over the Atlas Lions marks their third upset victory in the knockout stages. They now face Cape Verde in the quarterfinals, where they will look to continue their giant-killing form.
Afcon Upsets Galore as Big Guns Fall
Morocco’s elimination joins those of defending champions Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso, all ranked among the top 10 teams in Africa, who have exited the tournament prematurely. This opens the door for surprise packages like South Africa, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and DR Congo, all former champions aiming to reclaim their glory, and other contenders seeking their maiden continental title.
Can South Africa Continue Their Fairytale Run?
South Africa’s win over Morocco has undoubtedly been the biggest shock of the Afcon so far. Their clinical performance and ability to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses have been key to their success. As they enter the quarterfinals, the question remains: can they continue their giant-killing run and challenge for the ultimate prize? The answer will unfold in the coming days, but one thing is certain: South Africa has well and truly announced themselves as a force to be reckoned with in this year’s Afcon.