January 31 – Morocco became the latest giants to be toppled at a shock-filled Africa Cup of Nations when they fell 2-0 to South Africa on Tuesday, while Mali also booked a quarter-finals place.
Achraf Hakimi missed a vital late penalty as the much-fancied World Cup semifinalists became the latest heavyweight casualty, eliminated in the last 16.
Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena scored in the second half for Bafana Bafana, who once again proved a bogey team for the Atlas Lions and now go on to play Cape Verde in the quarterfinals.
Since becoming the first African side to reach the World Cup semis two years ago, Morocco have lost two of 13 matches, and both defeats were inflicted by South Africa.
Morocco now go the same way as Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt in being knocked out, meaning none of the five top-ranked African nations will be present in the quarter-finals, as well as none of the four semifinalists from the last edition.
Despite being an African powerhouse for decades, Morocco have consistently flopped at the Cup of Nations since their lone triumph 48 years ago. Coach Walid Regragui called the repeated failures an “African curse” as the former national team full-back saw South Africa pull off a deserved victory.
Meanwhile Mali reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2013 by defeating Burkina Faso 2-1.
Victory was a welcome change of fortune for Mali, who have had two first round and two last-16 exits since finishing third in South Africa 11 years ago. They now meet hosts Ivory Coast in the last eight.
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