World Cup semi-finalists Morocco have been knocked out of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations at the last-16 stage after a 2-0 loss to South Africa.
Goals from Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena secured South Africa’s quarter-final spot, while Achraf Hakimi missed a late penalty for Morocco.
The Atlas Lions are the second of the pre-tournament favourites to exit the competition after reigning champions Senegal were beaten on penalties by Cote d’Ivoire on Monday.
Bafana Bafana took the lead after 57 minutes as Makgopa fired past goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
Morocco were handed a golden opportunity to equalise in the 84th minute as substitute Ayoub El Kaabi’s effort struck the out-stretched arm of defender Mothobi Mvala.
A penalty was awarded following a VAR review, but Hakimi hit the subsequent spot kick onto the bar.
Morocco were reduced to 10 men in the latter stages as Manchester United midfielder Sofyan Amrabat received a second yellow card.
This was amended to a straight red card following a VAR review as the 27-year-old was deemed to be the last man when he committed the foul.
Mokoena scored from the resulting free-kick to put the game beyond Morocco who reached the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, becoming the first African side in the history of the competition to do so, beating Spain and Portugal en route to the last-four.
South Africa will play Cape Verde in the quarter finals on Saturday.
In another last-16 encounter, The Eagles of Mali beat the Stallions of Burkina Faso 2-1 on Tuesday night.
An own goal in the 3rd minute from Edmond Tapsoba gave the Eagles the lead.
Lassine Sinayoko extended Mali’s lead in the 47th minute when he made scores 2-0.
Ten minutes later, Bertrand Traore scored a penalty for Burkina Faso to reduce the deficit to 2-1 after a handball review by the Video Assistant Referee.
Mali will now face tournament hosts, Cote d’Ivoire, on Saturday in Bouake.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles will take on the Palancas Negras of Angola in the first quarter final at 6pm on Friday while the Democratic Republic of Congo face Guinea at 9pm also on Friday.