DURBAN, South Africa (AP):
Cape Verde pulled off their second surprising result of the African Cup of Nations, and did host South Africa a big favour, as they held Morocco to 1-1 at Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday.
Although Cape Verde were unable to hold on to 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.
Half-time 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, who 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 them in firm control of Group A.
However, Cape Verde, playing in their first African Cup, gave themselves every chance of reaching the second round going into their final group game against Angola on Sunday.
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.
With some robust tackling and a tight offside line, the Blue Sharks offered nothing to Morocco in the opening 60 minutes.
And where Cape Verde were well organised and kept their discipline, the Moroccans were sloppy and prone to squabbling both among themselves and with the referee.
Morocco finally found some focus in the final quarter, and forced an equaliser through El Arabi, yet it was Cape Verde who came closest to sneaking a winning goal in the final minutes when substitute Heldon Ramos tested Lamyaghri with a shot that was well placed but lacked power.