There was great jubilance among South Africans on Sunday as Bafana Bafana qualified for the quarterfinals at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Bafana played a 2-2 draw with Morocco. This earned them the one point they needed to qualify for the quarterfinals.
It was the most thrilling game of the 2013 Afcon Tournament so far. Both teams displayed great performances. Morocco seemed determined to win the game whereas Bafana wanted to make sure they play at least a draw. Morocco’s players ran very fast in the first few minutes of the game. It was clear that they wanted an early goal, and they got it. Issam El Adoua scored their first goal in the 10th minute. They also had more ball possession than Bafana at the beginning of the game.
However, late into the match, Morocco showed signs of fatigue and Bafana started to turn the tables. They had more ball possession and started attacking persistently. May Mahlangu finally scored an equalizer for South Africa in the 71st minute. South Africans were relieved for a while, until Abdelilah Hafids scored a second goal for Morocco in the 82nd minute, annihilating all hopes for South Africa to reach the quarterfinals.
Most of us believed that Morocco was going to win as there were only 8 minutes remaining and it had taken 71 minutes for Bafana to score their first goal. However, Siyabonga Sangweni miraculously scored a second one in the 86th minute, which saw Bafana qualify for the quarterfinals for the first time in 11 years.
Bafana last qualified for the quarterfinals in 2002 in Mali. That year they played 0-0 against Burkina Faso, 0-0 against Ghana and then beat Morocco 3-1. They finished as group B winners, with five points. In the quarterfinals they were eliminated by Mali, which beat them by 2-0. This coming Saturday they will be facing Mali at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Will Mali repeat what they did in 2002 or will Bafana avenge themselves and progress to the semi-finals? We will see on Saturday.