AFCON 2023: Favourites Morocco up against South Africa in last 16 clash

San Pedro, (CIV):- 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalist, Morocco will face South Africa in the round of 16 of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023 on Tuesday, January 30 at the Stade Laurent Pokou in San Pedro.  

The game promises to be a thrilling encounter between two of Africa’s greats. 

In Group E, South Africa finished second although they got off to a shaky start against Mali, the Bafana Bafana bounced back with a resounding 4-0 win over Namibia before drawing with Tunisia, which led to the latter’s elimination. 

Often expected to perform at the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON, South Africa has failed to live up to expectations. Their most recent success was eliminating Egypt in the Round of 16 of the 2019 TotalEnergies CAF AFCON but ended up falling short eventually. 

This time, Hugo Broos’ men are looking to go far in the competition. 

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Percy Tau, Themba Zwane and Thapelo Morena will have to contend with one of the best defensive units of the competition in Romain Saïss and Nayef Aguerd.  

Morocco are one of the teams nobody wants to face. Ever since their dazzling run at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, the Atlas Lions have been tough for everyone they have crossed paths with. 

Their ambition has been clear from the onset; to go as far as possible in the tournament and win the trophy. 

So far, everything is going according to plan for the Atlas Lions though the 1-1 draw with DR Congo left a few doubts. The final match against Zambia in the group phase which they won 1-0 was a clear indication of the team’s ambition.

Walid Regragui – Morocco coach speaking ahead of the clash said; “It’s a knockout match. It’s a change of competition. We can’t afford to make any mistake. We’ve done well so far, but we want to do better.

We have a lot of respect for South Africa. They were the last team to beat us on the continent. We’re not in a favourable position, which is why I’m insisting on my group’s humility.” 

Boufal is out and his TotalEnergies CAF AFCON Côte d’Ivoire 2023 is over after a muscular problem he suffered in the final group stage fixture., while Ziyech is also suffering from his ankle.

“The medical staff and I are doing everything we can to get him back on the pitch. If we have to take a risk with him, we’ll take it,” he emphasized.

On the other hand, Hugo Broos, South Africa coach said; “This TotalEnergies CAF AFCON Côte d’ivoire 2023 is full of surprises, as we’ve seen from the start. We already beat Morocco a year ago and we can do it again.  Anything is possible and we want to create another surprise in this competition.

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We’re confident, we believe in ourselves and in what we can do. I think we’ll have to go into this match with the same frame of mind we’ve had recently, but I want us to be at a very high level.”

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