Bafana through to Afcon knock-out stage

Sunday, January 27, 2013

By Nthambeleni Gabara

Durban - A hard fought 2-2 draw against Morocco was enough to push Bafana Bafana to the knock-out stage of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Morocco silenced the home crowd at the fully packed Moses Mabhida stadium when they scored their first goal in the 9th minute when EL Adoua beat Bafana goalkeeper Khune with a header from a corner-kick.

During the half-time break, Bafana were still trailing 1-nil, but when they returned from the half-time, Bafana with the partisan support from the local fans, they finally equalised, through May Mahlangu.

His brilliant connection with striker Tokelo Rantie frustrated the North Africans who ended up giving Mahlangu more space outside the box who did not disappoint as he nicely curled the ball into the back of the net.

However, Morocco silenced the home supporters once again when they caught Bafana defenders napping on a counter-attack.

Zakarya Bergdich's crossed a nice pass to Abdelilah Hafidi, who easily beat Itumeleng Khune much to the disappointed of South Africans.

However, the buzzing vuvuzelas kept Bafana Bafana's fighting spirit alive.

With Bafana coach standing on the line giving his players instruction to put more pressure on their opponents, Bafana started moving forward to attack.

Following their brilliant passes outside the box of the North Africans, Bafana defender, Siyabonga Sangweni, curled the ball into the far right and equalised for South Africa.

At the end of the match, South African supporters gave Bafana's keeper Khune a standing ovation who on several occasion raced out of his area to make brilliant saves which denied Morocco a win.

With this win, Bafana will face Group B runners-up on February 2 at the Moses Mabhida stadium at 8:30pm.

South Africa came to the match leading Group A with four points, while the North Africans had two points from their draws.

In another Group A match played at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium, in Port Elizabeth, Cape Verde beat Angola 2-1 to advance to the knock-out stages.

Bafana Bafana and Morocco have met three times before with the host nation winning on two occasions and drawing the other match - all the clashes being in the Afcon tourney.

South Africa beat Morocco 2-1 in a 1998 quarter-final match in Burkina Faso where they went on to finish as runners up.

Four years later they met in the group stages in Mali, Bafana Bafana overcoming the North Africans 3-1.

In 2004, they met in Tunisia in another group stages match which ended in a 1-all stalemate.

Bafana Bafana starting XI: Itumeleng Khune, Tshepo Masilela, Anele Ngcongca, Bongani Khumalo, Siyabonga Sangweni, Dean Furman, May Mahlangu, Thuso Phala, Bernard Parker, Katlego Mphela(Thulani Serero 50th minute) and Tokelo Rantie.

Morocco starting XI: Lamyaghri, Achchakir, Kantari, Benatia, Barrada, EL Arabi, Kaddioui, EL Kaoutari, EL Adoua, Belghazouani and Chafni. -


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