Bafana Bafana has qualified for the quarter-finals of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations South Africa 2013 following a thrilling 2-2 draw with Morocco in Durban on Sunday, 27 January.
Playing in front of a capacity Moses Mabhida Stadium, Bafana Bafana showed resilience and a fighting spirit hardly seen in recent years, twice coming from behind to level matters.
Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund fielded the same line-up that started against Angola after striker Tokelo Rantie passed a late fitness test.
But the vociferous Durban crowd was silenced in the 10th minute when El Adoua put the North Africans ahead. The hosts had to wait until the 71st minute when a brilliant goal by May Mahlangu brought Bafana back into the picture.
While the Bafana Bafana supporters were still celebrating the superbly taken goal, Morocco restored the lead through Hafidi.
But with their never-say-day spirit, South Africa was back on level terms through a Siyabonga Sangweni goal three minutes from time.
It was the tall defender, who hails from the coastal city's second goal in as many matches having scored the opening goal in the 2-0 win over Angola.
Earlier, the North Africans had numerous chances to score but found goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune in fine form which earned him the Orange Man of the Match award.
"We feel very proud; we have achieved our first objective in what was a very tough match. We are done with the group stages and we are looking forward to our next match. For the next few hours we are just going to relax and unwind. I feel very proud for the players, and I am also happy that South Africans were very proud and happy. Without their support we would not be where we are today," said coach Gordon Igesund.
"The most important thing is that we won and we did so against a team that had nothing to lose which is always dangerous."
After the match, Bafana Bafana had surprise visit in their dressing room from a high-powered delegation made up of The Honourable Fikile Mbalula (Minister of Sport and Recreation SA); Dr Zweli Mkhize (Premier of KZN); Kirsten Nematandani (SAFA President); Dr Irvin Khoza (SAFA vice-president and PSL Chairman); Dr Danny Jordaan (SAFA vice-President); Dennis Mumble (SAFA Acting CEO); Patrice Motsepe (President and owner of Mamelodi Sundowns FC) and Happy Ntshingila (Supersport International).
The delegation showered Bafana Bafana with praises for a great performance in securing qualification to the next round.
With the draw, South Africa, who last reached the AFCON quarter-finals in Mali in 2002, finished top of Group A. Bafana Bafana collected five points in their three matches, tied with debutants Cape Verde Islands on the same number of points but the host nation has a better goal difference. Morocco and Angola finished on three points and one respectively and were eliminated from the tournament. Cape Verde Islands came from behind to defeat Angola 2-1 in Port Elizabeth.
South Africa will face the Group B runners-up at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 20h30.
The host nation will be without the services of defender Anele Ngcongca who picked up his second yellow card and has been suspended for the quarter-finals.
Cape Verde Islands will take on Group B winners in the quarter-finals in an earlier kickoff of 17h00 in Port Elizabeth.
This is how South Africa and Morocco lined-up:
Itumeleng Khune, Anele Ngcongca, Bongani Khumalo (C), Siyabonga Sangweni, Tsepo Masilela, Dean Furman, May Mahlangu (Kagisho Dikgacoi), Thuso Phala, Bernard Parker (Reneilwe Letsholonyane), Tokelo Rantie, Katlego Mphela (Thulani Serero).
Nadir Lamyaghri, Abderrahim Achchakir, Ahmed Kantari, Mehdi Benatia, Abdelaziz Barrada, Youssef El-Arabi, Youssef Kaddioui, Abdelhamid El Kaoutari, Issam El Adoua, Chahir Belghazouani, Kamel Chafni.