One of the favourites for the Africa Cup of Nations will be looking to avoid a shock in their last-16 tie. Look ahead to the game with our Morocco vs South Africa prediction and preview.

Morocco vs South Africa: Pre-Match Facts

  • The odds are stacked against South Africa here; in the Opta supercomputer’s 10,000 pre-match simulations, Morocco won 56.1% of the time inside 90 minutes.
  • Morocco have been eliminated in four of their last five CAF Africa Cup of Nations knockout ties, although the one they did progress from was in the last 16 of the 2021 tournament in 2022, beating Malawi 2-1.
  • South Africa won each of their first five Africa Cup of Nations knockout matches but have only won two of their last eight (D2 L4), losing 2-1 to Nigeria in their most recent such match in the 2019 quarter-final.
  • No side attempted more shots in the 90th minute of matches in the group stage than Morocco (9), while only one of South Africa’s 35 attempts at goal came in the final minute of the match.
  • Morocco have scored in each of their last 12 Africa Cup of Nations matches, their longest run of scoring in the competition. They last failed to score in a 1-0 defeat to Egypt in 2017.
  • South Africa have kept clean sheets in their last two Africa Cup of Nations matches, as many as in their previous 11 combined. Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams has prevented 1.8 goals (according to Opta’s expected goals on target model), the third best of any goalkeeper in the 2023 AFCON group stage.
  • No player created more chances than Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi (10) in the group stage, with the Paris Saint-Germain star registering the best expected assists total (1.2). He was also involved the most open-play sequences ending with a shot (20).
  • Despite only playing 141 minutes in the group stage this year, just two players completed more take-ons than Morocco’s Sofiane Boufal (8), while only Egypt forward Omar Marmoush (11) attempted more take-ons following a ball carry than Boufal (10).
  • South Africa’s Audrey Modiba won possession of the ball 30 times in the group stage, six more than any other player and the most by a South African player at any of the last four AFCON tournaments in the groups.

Match Preview

Giant-killing was the name of the game in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations group stage, with Tunisia, Algeria and Ghana all going home early while a few others escaped near-misses; Morocco will be wary of the many shocks as they enter the knockouts with a last-16 duel with South Africa.

Morocco may not have been spectacular in Group F, but their progression as section winners was pretty comfortable. No team in the tournament conceded fewer goals than their solitary concession against DR Congo, they trailed at no point in their three games, and their seven points was bettered by only Senegal (9).

Coincidentally, Senegal (23.7%) are now – at the time of writing – the only side considered to have a better chance of going all the way than Morocco (17.2%), which is probably partly helped by the fact the earliest they can face each other is in the final.

There’s still plenty of work to be done, however. Although Morocco’s progress through the group was largely comfortable on the face of it, they rode their luck against DR Congo on Matchday 2 and were hugely wasteful in the 1-0 win over Zambia.

Morocco vs DR Congo xG race

South Africa may not be strongest opposition they could face in the tournament, but Bafana Bafana did commendably hold Tunisia to a 0-0 draw and beat Namibia 4-0 in Group E.

Prior to those two clean sheets, they had only recorded a pair of shutouts in their previous 11 AFCON games. Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams proved dependable in the group stage, preventing 1.8 goals (according to Opta’s xGOT metric), the third best of any keeper.

Ronwen Williams xGOT South Africa AFCON

They will likely require him to be at the top of his game again considering Morocco have scored in each of their last 12 AFCON games.

The Atlas Lions were due to be without the influence of head coach Walid Regragui on the touchline once again; he was handed a four-match ban – two of which were suspended for a year – after his alleged role in ugly post-match scenes at the end of the draw with DR Congo, forcing him to watch the Zambia win from the stands. However, it was confirmed on Sunday that the ban and his fine have been overturned following a successful appeal, meaning Regragui will be back in the dugout on Tuesday.

Whoever emerges victorious from this clash will face either Cape Verde or Mauritania in the quarter-finals.

Morocco vs South Africa Head-to-Head

Morocco and South Africa are certainly not strangers to each other at this level; this will be their sixth meeting in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bafana Bafana have the historical edge, having only lost one of those five previous encounters, though Morocco were victorious in the most recent duel, winning 1-0 in the 2019 group stage.

The only previous AFCON knockout match between Morocco and South Africa was in the 1998 quarter-final, a 2-1 victory for the latter in Burkina Faso.

Morocco vs South Africa Prediction

Morocco vs South Africa Prediction

The Opta supercomputer expects Morocco to emerge from this tie; they won 56.1% of the 10,000 pre-match simulations in 90 minutes.

South Africa came out on top in just 22.2% of the simulations, meaning 21.7% of them went to extra time and potentially penalties. When taking into account the possibility of the game being settled beyond 90 minutes, Morocco’s overall chance of progression is 67.8% according to the supercomputer.

Below you’ll find the current, up-to-date chances of progression through to the next round in the ‘bracket’ tab, plus each team’s probability of winning the title in the ‘table’ tab:

Morocco vs South Africa Squads

Morocco: Munir Mohamedi, Yassine Bounou, Mehdi Benabid, Nayef Aguerd, Achraf Hakimi, Romain Saïss, Chadi Riad, Yahya Attiat-Allah, Abdel Abqar, Yunis Abdelhamid, Noussair Mazraoui, Mohamed Chibi, Sofyan Amrabat, Hakim Ziyech, Amir Richardson, Selim Amallah, Oussama El Azzouzi, Amine Harit, Azzedine Ounahi, Bilal El Khannouss, Sofiane Boufal, Youssef En-Nesyri, Abde Ezzalzouli, Ismael Saibari, Tarik Tissoudali, Amine Adli, Ayoub El Kaabi.

Coach: Walid Regragui

South Africa: Ronwen Williams, Ricardo Goss, Veli Mothwa, Siyanda Xulu, Tapelo Xoki, Khuliso Mudau, Mothobi Mvala, Nyiko Mobbie, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Terrence Mashego, Thapelo Morena, Grant Kekana, Themba Zwane, Teboho Mokoena, Sibongiseni Mthethwa, Thabang Monare, Aubrey Modiba, Oswin Appollis, Sphephelo Sithole, Jayden Adams, Thapelo Maseko, Elias Mokwana, Percy Tau, Evidence Makgopa, Iqraam Rayners, Zakhele Lepasa, Mihlali Mayambela.

Coach: Hugo Broos

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