Cape Verde gains second point as it holds Morocco
DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — Cape Verde pulled off its second surprising result of the African Cup of Nations, and did host South Africa a big favor, as it held Morocco to 1-1 at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday.
Although Cape Verde was unable to hold onto the lead provided by a 36th-minute goal from Luis Soares, a second draw was another stunner by a team from a tiny island nation with a population of just half a million.
Halftime substitute Youssef El Arabi spared some of Morocco's blushes when he turned in Abdelaziz Barrada's clinical cutback 12 minutes from time.
But the Atlas Lions next face a must-win clash with South Africa, which beat Angola 2-0 in the day's earlier Group A game at the same venue, if they are to secure qualification for the next round.
Many of the South African fans had drifted away from the stadium to celebrate their side's victory, which has put it in firm control of Group A.
However, Cape Verde, playing in its first African Cup, gave itself every chance of reaching the second round going into its final group game against Angola on Sunday.
"We believe that we have a good team. If you compare us with Morocco, we are on the same level," said Cape Verde captain Fernando Neves.
The islanders dominated the first half, with Carlos Tavares, Ryan Mendes and Soares all forcing good saves from Nadir Lamyaghri before Soares beat the Moroccan goalkeeper.
Soares, nicknamed Platini after his French football hero Michel Platini, was put through on goal by a clever pass from Mendes, but still needed a deft chip to find the back of the net and spark a celebration that included most of the Cape Verde squad.