The host country South Africa was back in action on Wednesday, looking to take control of Group A with a win over Angola, while Morocco and Cape Verde would come into play desiring three points but knowing a draw would keep them in the running to advance.
In many ways, Group A is the least compelling of the four groups, as none of the tournament favorites are in play here. Still, with host nation South Africa hoping to put on a good show for the home fans and teams like Morocco and Cape Verde featuring plenty of talent, there are many compelling storylines here.
On Wednesday, the story of Group A became a little bit more clear. Let's take a look back at Wednesday's action.
South Africa Defeats Angola, 2-0
The host country put itself in an excellent position to advance with a victory over Angola, getting goals from Siyabonga Sangweni and Lehlohonolo Majoro and sitting in a good standing with four points now in Group A.
Truthfully, this was a pretty dominant performance by South Africa, and the host side managed not only to win, but also score the first two goals of the tournament.
Sangweni tallied in the 30th minute, sending in a pretty half-volley (for a defender) past keeper Lama, who had no chance to make a play on the shot. South Africa would dominate the rest of the half, and Angola were lucky to be down just one.
The game would open up in the second half a bit as winger Mateus started causing the South Africans trouble down the flank. But Bafana Bafana would withstand his assaults, and would be the next to score when substitution Majoro would score just two minutes into his afternoon.
He was set free after finding himself on the end of a lovely long pass. He would make a defender miss and beat Lama, giving South Africa a 2-0 lead.
While Angola would threaten here or there the rest of the way, South Africa would hold them off, setting up a key game against Morocco to close group play. It would be a surprise if South Africa failed to advance out of this group.
Morocco and Cape Verde Draw, 1-1
For Cape Verde, this day would be an historic one, as the team would score its first-ever goal in a major competition. It would also be a somewhat disappointing day, as the country would fail to hold its first-half lead and finish with its second draw in group play.
Platini would open the scoring in the 36th minute, sending a cheeky chip over the keeper after being played in by Ryan Mendes. History had been made, and suddenly the Cape Verde faithful were optimistic their side might pull off a surprising upset, too.
Cape Verde was certainly the stronger side in the first half, and the same old story seemed to being playing for Morocco—a talented team underperforming.
But the Moroccans would awaken in the second half, namely in the last 20 minutes of play, and Youssef El-Arabi would reward the side for its hard work, slotting home the equalizer from the penalty area off an Abdelaziz Barrada pass.
Morocco would continue to apply the pressure late, but Cape Verde would hang on for the draw, giving itself a chance to advance to the quarterfinals.
South Africa is in the driver's seat in the group, needing only a tie against Morocco to advance. Meanwhile, Morocco (two points), Cape Verde (two points) and Angola (one point) all remain alive and could advance to the quarters.
It should be a fun day of soccer when Group A concludes.
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