AFCON 2023: The 5 Big Upsets As South Africa Stun Morocco and Zambia Thrash Ivory Coast

AFCON 2023: The 5 Big Upsets As South Africa Stun Morocco and Zambia Thrash Ivory Coast

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
June 19, 2023 at 8:49 AM
  • Zambia and South Africa masterminded some of the momentous wins of the ongoing 2023 AFCON Qualifiers
  • Ivory Coast and 2022 World Cup semifinalists Morocco were among the teams that fell victim to these giant killers
  • Sports Brief takes a look at five of the biggest upsets in the penultimate round of games

The second-to-last round of qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations delivered a series of stunning outcomes, as some of the continent's established powerhouses faltered against their underdog opponents.

Ivory Coast, the three-time African champions and the host nation for the upcoming tournament, suffered the most significant blow, as Zambia emphatically defeated them with a commanding three-nil victory.

AFCON, Ivory Coast, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Madagascar
Zambia headlined the giant-killing nations that stunned their illustrious opponents in the penultimate round of games for the 2023 AFCON. Photo credit: @SAFA_net/Twitter @FAZFootball/Twitter @GhanaBlackstars/Twitter
Source: Twitter

Meanwhile, according to the FIFA Coca-Cola World Ranking, Africa's highest-ranked team, Morocco, encountered an unforeseen setback against South Africa, GeoNews reports.

Let's delve into the details of five of the most noteworthy upsets that occurred during Matchday five of the qualifiers:

5. Equatorial Guinea 1-0 Tunisia

The 2015 AFCON hosts stunned the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia on Saturday with a hard-fought one-nil win. Prior to the encounter on Saturday, June 17, the North Africans had not conceded a goal in four outings, but all that came crashing down when they met the Equatorial Guinea.

A late strike from the penalty spot by former Mallorca and Middlesbrough defender Emilio Nsue sealed a famous win over the 2004 African champions while securing qualification to the biennial tournament, per Modern Ghana.

The result means the Nzalang Nacional lead Tunisia by two points ahead of the final round of games in September.

4. Benin 1-1 Senegal

Reigning African champions, Senegal were stopped in their tracks by the Cheetahs of Benin, who managed a 1-1 draw at the Stade de l'Amitié in Cotonou.

With the Teranga Lions in search of their fifth win in the qualifiers, coach Aliou Cisse's men shot into the lead through Abdoulaye Seck just before halftime. But a resilient display from the hosts saw them draw parity late in the second half.

Perhaps Senegal did not see the need to change gears since the result had little to no bearing on them, having secured qualification before the penultimate round of games.

3. Madagascar 0-0 Ghana

The Black Stars of Ghana had the opportunity to join the raft of nations to have booked qualification for the biennial showpiece with a win but could only muster a goalless draw against Madagascar.

A listless performance from Chris Hughton's men deserved the disappointing result after putting up a disjointed effort with a lack of proper goal-scoring threats despite being blessed with some of the continent's budding forwards.

On the other hand, Madagascar will deem the stalemate as a major coup, having secured just one point from their previous four games in the qualifiers.

2. Zambia 3-0 Ivory Coast

Another West African nation going through an identity crisis like Ghana was Ivory Coast, who were blown out of the water by Zambia.

The Chipolopolo thrashed the three-time African champions at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, with Kings Kangwa and Patson Daka all getting on the scoresheet, not forgetting Serge Aurier's bizarre own goal to cap off a bad outing for the Elephants.

Zambia, coached by former Chelsea and West Ham boss Avram Grant, return to the showpiece for the first time since 2015.

1. South Africa 2-1 Morocco

Morocco reached next year's AFCON back in March without taking to the pitch but ceded their Group K top spot to South Africa after a shock 2-1 defeat in Johannesburg.

Since breaking the glass ceiling to become the first African nation to reach the semifinals of the World Cup, Morocco have played three friendlies, including beating Brazil but were brought down to earth by Hugo Broos' men.

A horrendous goalkeeping error was the beginning of their shortcoming. Zakhele Lepasa then doubled South Africa's lead, and despite a late surge resulting in a Hakim Ziyech goal, Bafana Bafana held on for a famous victory, sealing qualification for next year's tournament after missing out on the previous edition.

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Editor- La Liga I Bundesliga I French Ligue
GhanaSouth AfricaAfrica Cup of Nations - AFCONNigeria