Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos confident of upsetting favourites Morocco

This AFCON Côte d’ivoire 2023 is full of surprises, as we’ve seen from the start

* We already beat Morocco a year ago and we can do it again. We’re confident, we believe in ourselves and in what we can do

Maravi Express

2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists, Morocco will face South Africa in the Round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Côte d’Ivoire 2023 tomorrow at the Stade Laurent Pokou in San Pedro — with the Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos confident of upsetting the north African favourites.


Ahead of the game that promises to be a thrilling encounter between two of Africa’s greats, South Africa’s coach, Hugo Broos, said anything is possible and they want to create another surprise in this competition.

“This AFCON Côte d’ivoire 2023 is full of surprises, as we’ve seen from the start,” he told CAFonline. “We already beat Morocco a year ago and we can do it again.  We’re confident, we believe in ourselves and in what we can do.

“I think we’ll have to go into this match with the same frame of mind we’ve had recently, but I want us to be at a very high level.”

In Group E, South Africa finished second and although they got off to a shaky start against Mali, the Bafana Bafana bounced back with a resounding 4-0 win over Namibia before drawing with Tunisia, which led to the latter’s elimination. 

Often expected to perform at the AFCON, South Africa have failed to live up to expectations — their most recent success was eliminating Egypt in the Round of 16 but ended up falling short eventually.


This time, Hugo Broos’ men are looking to go far in the competition and with Percy Tau, Themba Zwane and Thapelo Morena, they will have to contend with one of the best defensive units of the competition in Romain Saïss and Nayef Aguerd.  

Morocco are one of the teams nobody wants to face. Ever since their dazzling run at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, the Atlas Lions have been tough for everyone they have crossed path with. 

Their ambition has been clear from the onset; to go as far as possible in the tournament and win the trophy and so far, everything is going according to plan for the Atlas Lions though the 1-1 draw with DR Congo left a few doubts.

The final match against Zambia in the group phase which they won 1-0 was a clear indication of the team’s ambition — and this time around, Morocco coach Walid Regragui said: “It’s a knockout match — it’s a change of competition.

“We can’t afford to make any mistake. We’ve done well so far, but we want to do better.  We have a lot of respect for South Africa. They were the last team to beat us on the continent. We’re not in a favourable position, which is why I’m insisting on my group’s humility.”


His main player Boufal is out and his AFCON Côte d’Ivoire 2023 is over as he has a muscular problem and Ziyech is also suffering from his ankle.

“The medical staff and I are doing everything we can to get him back on the pitch. If we have to take a risk with him, we’ll take it,” Regragui said.

In the other Round of 16 encounter tomorrow is another blockbuster fixture between Mali facing the Stallions of Burkina Faso — with both sides yearning for continental glory having both fallen short on two separate occasions.

Having come agonisingly close to lifting the title in 2013, the Stallions, who finished second behind Angola in Group D, will be looking at going all their way despite them having a jittery start to the tournament.

Their journey to the Round of 16 was not the easiest after having to sweat for a victory over Mauritania whom they edged 1-0 in their opener before a 2-2 stand-off between them an Algeria in their second fixture.

Their final group match saw them outclassed by Angola in a 2-0 defeat which was fortunately not too detrimental for their campaign as their 4 points where enough to see them advance.

Mali on the other hand lived up to the high expectations placed on them in Group E after a strong opening against South Africa.

The Eagles soared over Bafana Bafana by 2-0 in their opening clash but seemed to have let the foot of the pedal in their last two group matches after playing out to a 1-1 draw with Tunisia, before the Brave Warriors of Namibia held them to a goalless draw.

A lot will be expected of the Eagles’ ace, Yves Bissouma who is yet to stamp his authority in the competition, while the Stallions’ Bertrand Traore will be entrusted with being a key figure for his side.

Both Burkina Faso and Mali are making their 13th AFCON appearance and both nations have lost a AFCON final.

In their previous 12 appearances, Burkina Faso have either been eliminated in the group stages (8 times) or at least reached the semi-finals (4 times) including the final defeat in 2013 (0-1 Nigeria).

This is Mali’s 13th appearance, and 9th in a row. No side has ever played as many games as Mali (54) at the AFCON without ever winning the trophy and their best performance dates back to 1972 where they lost 3-2 in the final against Congo.—Reporting by CAFonline