Bafana draw thriller to reach Afcon quarterfinals

Moment of the match: Siyabonga Sangweni’s well-taken equaliser in the 87th minute.

Saves of the match: Man of the match Itumeleng Khune showed his heroics when he twice thwarted Morocco.

It was not easy but Bafana Bafana made it through to the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations after twice coming from behind to level matters.

It's the first time since 2002 that Bafana have qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament.

Bafana needed a draw to guarantee their place in the last eight but had to dig deep as Morocco wanted to spoil the party.

Twice they came from behind tonight after the visitors scored and seemed to be home and dry but Siyabonga Sangweni had other ideas as he scored his second goal of the tournament in the 87th minute.

Earlier it was May Mahlangu who brought Bafana level with a well-taken goal in the 70th minute to cancel Issam El Adoua’s opener.

But Morocco went ahead once again when Hafid Abdelilah scored in the 82nd minute.

South African supporters had the last laugh, however, when Sangweni came to Bafana’s rescue and a draw was enough to send them through.

It was a good game of football and supporters left the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban a happy lot.

The home crowd was stunned in the 10th minute when Morocco took the lead through El Adoua. But the goal was long coming as Bafana were too slow out of the blocks allowing the North Africans to come at them.

Morocco was expected to take the game to Bafana and this is exactly what they did as they needed an outright victory to progress to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Bafana were hardly in the game in the opening stages as their midfield could not contain the visitors. The duo of Dean Furman and Mahlangu played far apart, thereby creating a gap in the middle of the park for Morocco to launch their attacks.

Bafana finished the half the better side as they attacked relentlessly but they could not find the back of the net.

The team could have gone to the break trailing 2-0 had it not been for Khune’s heroics in the 40th minute. The Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper had to run metres out of his line to thwart Youssef El Arabi’s attempt.

Itumeleng Khune celebrates the equaliser during the game between Bafana Bafana and Morocco in Durban on Sunday (January 27 2012). Picture: Herman Verwey/City Press

But they came back a strong team in the second half, playing with more vigour and purpose.

Fortunately Morocco allowed them too much space as they were content in defending their slender lead and they were made to pay.

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund opted for the same team that started against Angola while his Moroccan counterpart, Rachid Taoussi, made six changes to the team that started against Cape Verde.

He was forced to make do without his play-maker Belhanda Younes, who was suspended after accumulating two yellow cards. Taoussi also decided to drop Zakarya Bergdich, Aroussi El Ahmadi, Oussama Assaidi, Mounir El Hamdaoui and Noureddine Amrabat.

Bafana are guaranteed another full house at their base in Durban on Saturday evening when they play Group B’s runners-up.

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