Amrabat bows out of AFCON

Tuesday 30 January 2024 22:42

Sofyan Amrabat was sent off as the Manchester United midfielder's dreams of winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Morocco ended with a shock 2-0 defeat to South Africa.

Having been World Cup semi-finalists in Qatar last year, the Atlas Lions were fancied to go all the way on their own continent. But without one of their leading attackers, Hakim Ziyech, they couldn't break down their resilient last-16 opponents and instead conceded two goals in the second half.

The opener was scored by Evidence Makgopa in the 57th minute, when VAR eventually confirmed he was onside for his low finish past Yassine Bounou.

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The video system came into play twice more in a gripping conclusion to the match, firstly giving Morocco the chance to save themselves in the 85th minute as Mothobi Mvala was penalised for blocking Ayoub El Kaabi's shot with his hand.

However, the opportunity was agonisingly spurned with Achraf Hakimi smashing his spot-kick against the crossbar. And as the favourites poured forward, still chasing an equaliser, Amrabat was left isolated at the back and brought down Teboho Mokoena as the Bafana Bafana threatened to make it 2-0 with a breakaway goal.
The United midfielder was sent off, initially for a second yellow card - he was previously booked for a foul in the 64th minute. But when the referee checked the VAR monitor, he upgraded it to a straight red.

Further punishment followed when Mokoena picked himself up to fire home from the resulting free-kick and seal South Africa's place in the quarter-finals. They will now prepare to face Cape Verde - the side featuring former Reds winger Bebe - on Saturday night, while Amrabat joins his club colleague Andre Onana in exiting the tournament in the Round of 16.