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Tuesday, 30 January 2024 12:17

Broos optimistic his side will cause an upset in San Pedro.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

South Africa will face Morocco in the round of 16 of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Côte d'Ivoire 2023 on Tuesday, January 30 at the Stade Laurent Pokou in San Pedro.  

Hugo Broos side finished second although they got off to a shaky start against Mali, they bounced back with a resounding 4-0 win over Namibia before drawing with Tunisia, which led to the latter's elimination.

In a continental championship full of surprises in the Ivory Coast, which has already seen Ghana, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal and Egypt go home early in the competition, nothing can be taken for granted.

The pair have met twice in the last 18 months, both times in the qualifiers for these final, and each recorded 2-1 home wins, the last of which was in Soweto in June 2023.

"This Cup of Nations is full of surprises, as we've seen from the start," Broos said. "We already beat Morocco a year ago and we can do it again. Anything is possible and we want to create another surprise in this competition.

"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."

Morocco reached the semifinals of the last World Cup in Qatar, but have perhaps not yet reached that level in the Ivory Coast despite topping their pool in the group stages.

Coach Walid Regragui, who will be on the touchline having had a CAF suspension overturned on appeal, is certainly taking nothing for granted.

"It's a knockout match. It's a change of competition. We can't afford to make any mistakes," he said. "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."

Regragui revealed he will definitely be without one of his stars, with another a doubt for the Bafana game.

"Winger Sofiane Boufal is out and his Cup of Nations is over. He has a muscular problem and, barring a surprise, we won't be seeing him again," the coach said.

"(Playmaker Hakim) 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."