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Ziyech-less Morocco knocked out by South Africa in latest Africa Cup of Nations shock


Morocco v South Africa - Africa Cup of Nations Photo by Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Images

Egypt one day, Senegal the next, and now Morocco. All gone, all knocked out in the Round of 16 at what has turned out to be a rather unpredictable and upset-filled Africa Cup of Nations.

The five highest ranked teams have now all been eliminated (Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt) and fully half of the remaining eight teams were seeded in Pot 3 or Pot 4 when the draw was made — including Angola, who were the third lowest ranked team coming in.

Twelve months removed from finishing fourth at the World Cup, Morocco were beaten by an unheralded South Africa side, who rode their luck at times (Achraf Hakimi missing a game-tying penalty late on, for example) but fully earned their 2-0 victory last night.

Hakim Ziyech was not able to overcome the ankle injury he suffered in their previous match, so he did not feature. He will now go back to Galatasaray to finish out his loan — unless the rumored interest from Saudi Arabia leads to something in the next few hours.

The quarterfinals will begin this weekend with Victor Osimhen’s Nigeria now surely the favorites. They will take on Angola. DR Congo against Guinea, Cabo Verde against South Africa, and host Côte d’Ivoire against Mali will complete the round.

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