Morocco’s Atlas Lions knocked out of AFCON


A January 31st loss to South Africa knocked Morocco’s Atlas Lions out of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), according to AP.

A 57th minute goal from Evidence Makgopa, and another from Teboho Mokoena during stoppage time sent South Africa’s “Bafana Bafana” through to the quarter finals.

Morocco coach, Walid Regragui, who returned for the tournament after suspension stated: “We’re very disappointed because we came with the ambition of winning it. Going out so early in the tournament wasn’t expected, but this cup is really difficult. Lots of surprises.”

READ: Morocco: Atlas Lions coach reignites “Arab” identity issue

World Cup semi-finalists Morocco played without wingers Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal, who were both injured in the Lions’ win over Zambia, but defender Noussair Mazraoui started, after recovering from a leg injury.

Morocco created more chances and were stunned when Themba Zwane sent Makgopa through to score.

The returned the pressure until handed a lifeline, when South Africa’s Mothobi Mvala was penalized for a handball, blocking Ayoub al-Kaabi’s shot.

Hakimi missed a chance to tie the score, hitting the crossbar in the 85th minute.

Morocco fell on more bad luck when midfielder Sofyan Amrabat was sent off in injury time, and their fate was sealed a minute later, when Mokoena scored inside the top left corner.

Morocco followed defending champions Senegal, as-well-as Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Algeria, and Tunisia, to be knocked out ahead of the quarter finals.

None of the eight quarterfinalists in the last AFCON in Cameroon made it to the last eight this year, nor have any of the five African teams that played in the 2022 World Cup.

READ: Morocco wins joint bid to host 2023 World Cup with Spain, Portugal

Reflecting on the devastating loss, Regragui said: “We were warned, we made uncharacteristic mistakes that were unlike us. But I take responsibility today for the choices, for everything that happened today… It doesn’t reflect our team. So, there you go. Congratulations to South Africa.”

South Africa coach Hugo Broos said: “Beating a team like Morocco is something special. We are very, very, very happy.”

Bafana Bafana went on to beat Cape Verde 2-1 on penalties, in Yamoussoukro on February 3rd.



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