Broos says Bafana can shock Morocco

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Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos believes his players can surprise the highly ranked Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations last 16-match on Tuesday. Morocco are the number one ranked team in Africa and will go into the last-16 tie against South Africa as overwhelming favourites.

The Atlas Lions will be strengthened by the return of their coach on the bench. Walid Regragui has had his suspension lifted, clearing his return for the team’s game against South Africa.

This year’s AFCON tournament has already dished out a lot of surprises. Big countries have already been shocked by the so-called minnows in African football. The group matches have produced a lot of unexpected results and the trend is continuing even in the knockout stage.

Seven-time champions Egypt were sent packing by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equitorial Guinea who finished top of Group A ahead of Nigeria and hosts Ivory Coast.

The North Africans are the number one ranked team in Africa and are in a respectable 13th place in the FIFA world rankings.

“We are aware of the difficult task that’s waiting for us tomorrow in the game against Morocco. Of course, Morocco are number one in Africa, and we saw them in the world cup, and they are full of high-profile players. It will be difficult, but this AFCON is full of surprises, we have seen in the past three weeks the big countries like Cameroon are already home, so it’s possible,” says Broos.

But Bafana Bafana cannot be underestimated despite their current ranking. South Africa are ranked 12th in Africa and occupy 65th spot in the latest FIFA rankings.

However, the two teams met in June last year in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with Morocco, winning the first leg encounter in Rabat 2-1, with South Africa registering a historic win in the second leg match played in Johannesburg.

“We are confident and we believe in ourselves and I think that is a big step. We built in the last months because we know what we can do. So, in tomorrow’s game we will try our level best and we know and believe that it’s possible to beat Morocco even when it’s a very good team and a very strong team. If we can start the game with the same mindset as we had in the games before maybe we can create a surprise tomorrow,” Broos added.

Morocco’s quality is clearly evident with most of their stars playing in Europe. They became the first African country to reach the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

“They have much quality in the team and their players are playing for best teams in Europe and teams with such players really have an advantage to teams like us who have most of the players playing in the local competition. But again, it is possible. We did it last year in June in Joburg, we beat Morocco,” Broos elaborates.

“Tomorrow’s game, it’s going to be difficult for both teams, but I think if we can bring our A game tomorrow, I think we can be able to get our best results because that is what we need for tomorrow’s game,” says Sphephelo Sithole, Bafana Bafana midfielder.

Following their second-place finish in Group E, Bafana Bafana were forced to move from their original base on Korhogo. They are now adjusting to the conditions in San Pedro, where Group F winners Morocco have already played three matches.