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Are Bafana On The Way Up?

Bafana Bafana emerged victorious with a thrilling 2-1 win at home over World Cup semi-finalists Morocco last weekend.

Bafana Bafana v Morocco

Bafana Bafana emerged victorious with a thrilling 2-1 win at home over World Cup semi-finalists Morocco last weekend. The incredible performance by the home team signalled a big change for coach Hugo Broos’ team and their results in recent games. Whilst qualification for AFCON had already been confirmed, a positive result was nonetheless at the forefront for him, the players, and many supporters alike. In our latest ‘By the Numbers’ segment, we look at how the team won as they look to play amongst the big boys at the continental showpiece hosted by Ivory Coast in January 2024.

All in all, as expected Morocco, had the most possession of the two sides (57% vs 43%). It was however Bafana Bafana who were the more clinical team in front of goal with 56% vs 50% of shots hitting the target. The ability of their nine shots to hit five on target and amass 2.29 xG – their second-highest xG total in a calendar year (2.7 xG in a friendly against Sierra Leone in September 2022) shows how much the difference of energy was for this game. There was no doubt that the goalkeeping error cost Morocco early into the match, exactly 5 minutes in when Morocco’s goalkeeper, Munir el Kajoui let a cross by Percy Tau slip right through his hands and find the back of the net.

South Africa capitalised on the momentum in the second half, taking advantage of Morocco’s defensive mistakes as Zakhele Lepasa was presented with chance after chance to score a second goal for the home side. Out of his four chances with an xG of 1.1, he finally did slot a loose ball home to extend South Africa’s lead.

Whilst Bafana Bafana were leading, it was the third game in a row that the team managed to score two goals, yet also another game where the team failed to keep a clean sheet. In minute 59 Morocco fought back to equalise with a brilliant left-footed strike by Hakim Ziyech to reduce the deficit for the Atlas Lions.

Despite Morocco’s efforts and creating just 0.71 xG against Bafana Bafana – their lowest in a competitive fixture since they were beaten by France in the World Cup semi-finals. The inability to find an equaliser resulted in their first competitive defeat since their 3rd place play-off match against Croatia in Qatar last December.

Despite qualifications already secured pre-game, this match will give Broos, his staff, and the players the confidence that they can compete on the big stage. As AFCON draws ever closer, there is potential for the team to set themselves up as a formidable force and turn some heads in January.

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