Bafana Bafana do the unthinkable – beating Morrocco

Bafana Bafana in Ivory Coast

When Hugo Broos, the South African team football coach said they would reach the knockout phase of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast this January, some South Africans had good reasons not to believe him. After all the national team has not been doing well. There was hardly any hope to register a win against many tough teams in the continent. The 4-0 win against the Republic’s immediate neighbours, Namibia on 21 January 2024, in a group match did not sway the views of the South Africans, who were thinking of tough opposition. However, the national team continued to do well. They got through the group stage with a well-managed draw against Tunisia on 24 January 2024.  This led to a match against the best team in the continent – Morrocco on 30 January 2024, in Laurent Pokou Stadium, in San Pedro, Ivory Coast. The North African team did extremely well in the last World Cup in Qatar, in 2022. Most people expected them to do well in the Africa Cup of Nations. This Africa Cup of Nations was Morrocco’s chance to dominate Africa and show that reaching the semi-finals in the World Cup was not a fluke. The confidence from their coach, Walid Regragui, must have sent shivers down the spines of South Africans. But most likely, not the players, if you think about how they handled themselves during the match when they did the unthinkable – bundling Morrocco out of the last 16 with a 2-0 win, with goals from Evidence Makgopa, in the 57th minute, and Teboho Mokoena, with a magnificent free-kick during the referee’s optional time.

Now the team must prepare for the quarterfinal match on 3 February 2024, against Cape Verde. This is not going to be an easy encounter; the islanders defeated Egypt 8-7 in the penalty shootout on Sunday.

This progress by Bafana Bafana has generated the same sentiments that South Africans had when their Rugby team, their beloved Springboks, were surging forward in the World Cup in France, last year. Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: Marketing and Communications, said from a marketing perspective, every win by any national team was a welcome development. “Generally, people all over the world have challenges that trouble them, as groups, and as individuals. They become happy when their national teams win. This can help them draw some strength for the challenges they face. They get a sense of unity and togetherness. Well done to our boys!,” said Mkhize. Although she was aware that a tough time still lies ahead for the national team, Mkhize was optimistic that the team would do well. “We wish Bafana Bafana well on Sunday,” Mkhize said. She also asked staff to call up the 2010 festive spirit by wearing the national colours over the weekend.