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South Africa into quarterfinals

Mahela Jayawardene hit 61 as Sri Lanka nabbed a close win.

DURBAN – South Africa topped Group A with a 2-2 draw against Morocco on a dramatic night in Durban the African Cup of Nations yesterday.

The result means Morocco bow out, while Cape Verde join Bafana Bafana in the last eight.

Morocco took the lead early on when Issam El Adoua nodded in from a corner, but South Africa levelled when May Mahlangu†curled in from distance.

Morocco hit back again through substitute Abdelilah Hafidi, but Siyabonga Sangweni turned the game on its head again with a late equaliser that broke Morocco hearts.

Only victory against Morocco would have guaranteed hosts South Africa a place in the knockout phase, so things got off to a far from ideal start when slack marking allowed El Adoua to nip in and head Abdelaziz†Barrada’s corner past the helpless Itumeleng Khune in goal.

Bafana Bafana reacted well to going behind and started to dominate – but experienced difficulty creating clear-cut opportunities.

In fact, the closest South Africa came in the first half was a shot by Bernard Parker that flashed across goal and past the post. South Africa registered their first shot on target early in the second half when Thuso Phala bent a free-kick around the wall and forced Nadir Lamyaghri to punch away.

But Morocco started to see more of the ball in the second period and could have sewn the game up just before the hour when Youssef El Arabi was sent clean through on goal, but the striker’s attempted chip was saved brilliantly by Khune, who raced off his line to make the stop.

Just as Morocco were getting closer to securing the result they needed to progress, South Africa struck. Mahlangu found space on the edge of box and coaxed the ball into the far corner in some style.

Morocco reacted well to the equaliser and put their noses in front once again when the two substitutes combined to score their second, with Hafridi finishing Zakarya Bergdich’s cross.

But just as Morocco appeared to be going through, the game took another twist as Sangweni’s classy finish completed a thrilling finale and sent Bafana Bafana through.

Cape Verde booked their place in the quarter-finals after beating Angola 2-1 in Port Elizabeth.

Angola took the lead in the 33rd minute of an uninspiring first half when Fernando Neves diverted Amaro’s cross in at the near post.

But two woeful mistakes from Angola goalkeeper Lama turned the game on its head in the last 10 minutes.

First he fumbled an 80th minute corner, allowing Fernando Varela to head home from close range, and then he failed to hold a cross, with Heldon hammering home the loose ball to trigger jubilant scenes on the touchline.

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