South Africa and Morocco go head to head at the Al Salam Stadium on Monday evening with both sides vying for top spot on the Group D table. As it stands, Morocco are in the number one position with six points on the board after two games played, seconded by Ivory Coast who have three to their name, while South Africa are third and also on three points. When the pair last faced off the match finished as a stalemate, although this will be a very different set of teams and neither will want to settle for second.
South Africa’s AFCON preparations were disrupted by the cancellation of their friendly with Angola just five days before the tournament began, and their opening encounter with Ivory Coast went the way of their opponents. In truth, it was a game of few chances and South Africa struggled to create anything clear cut despite having the majority of possession. The first half was 0-0, however the second forty-five saw Jonathan Kodjia bag his teams first goal of the competition sixty-four minutes into the affair, Max Gradel getting the assist on this occasion. The score remained that way until the very end, meaning the World Cup hosts of 2010 had to get something from their next two fixtures. The following meeting with Namibia was closer than South Africa would have liked, with neither nation able to break the deadlock before half time. It wasn’t until the sixty-eighth minute when Bongani Zungu separated the two sides that anything of note occured, not that South Africa cared. With a win under their belt, South Africa are now looking to make it two victories on the bounce and seal their place in the next stage.
Morocco found it extremely difficult to get any sort of result in their warm up matches for this summer’s tournament, suffering defeat in all three of their friendlies leading up to the opener versus Namibia. They were rather fortunate to come away with three points too as it took an own goal in the eighty-ninth minute from Itamunua Keimuine to see them on their way to victory. In the second fixture against Ivory Coast, Morocco finally got one of their own players amongst the scoring as Youssef En-Nesyri fired home with just over twenty minutes gone. Two 1-0 wins will do little to boost the confidence of the Morrocan attackers, however the defence will certainly remain sure of their ability to keep yet another clean sheet when they take on South Africa. Chances have actually been aplenty for Morocco in both games thus far, and having players such as Nordin Amrabat, Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal would usually see managers expecting their team to score quite a few in every game. This is a great opportunity for Morocco to not only get through to the next round, but also add to their tally of two goals.
South Africa are expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 and attempt to control the midfield while also possessing a threat on the counter. Darren Kent should start as goalkeeper, while Buhle Mkhwanazi and Thulani Hlatshwayo will protect him as centre backs. Towards the middle of the park, Bongani Zungu is likely to partner Hlompho Alpheus, and Themba Zwane, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Percy Tau will make up an attacking midfield trio. Lebo Mothiba, as usual, will stay up front as the focal point of attack. There are no injury concerns for South Africa going into this one.
Similar to their opposition, Morocco will have a healthy camp available for selection, so manager Herve Renard can choose any players within the squad that he deems capable of winning. Experienced centre back Medhi Benatia will lead the back line with Romain Saiss, and Mbark Boussoufa, Karim Al Ahmadi and Younes Belhanda will play as a three man midfield in this 4-3-3 basic line up. The front line is expected to consist of some skillful individuals, with Nordin Amrabat and Hakim Ziyech playing either side of forward En-Nesyri.
Both teams have seen their opening games finish 1-0, whether that be in defeat or victory. South Africa have tasted what losing feels like already, and with a combined amount of four games between the two and just four goals scored, we can’t envision many hitting the net here either. For this reason, we think Morocco will come out on top by one goal to nil and you can bet on that result with Skybet at 9/2. Even if the scoreline doesn’t read the way we are predicting, the goals are not likely to flourish here and chances will be at a premium. Therefore Skybet’s price of 6/4 for under 1.5 goals doesn’t look too bad at all. These bets work nicely with our third tip for this fixture: Morocco to win to nil at 21/10 with Skybet. Morocco are yet to see the ball in their net as of now, and South Africa’s attackers have not exactly been on top form so far.