Bafana still in Afcon and face hosts Egypt in last-16

South Africa's coach Stuart Baxter attends a press conference in the capital Cairo, on June 30, 2019, on the eve of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Group A football match between South Africa and Morocco.
South Africa's coach Stuart Baxter attends a press conference in the capital Cairo, on June 30, 2019, on the eve of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Group A football match between South Africa and Morocco.
Image: Nader Nabil / AFP

Bafana Bafana are not just dramatically still at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, they now face hosts Egypt in Saturday's last-16 feature at the hosts stronghold cauldron at Cairo International Stadium.

Now, the South Africans, instead of being on an early plane home, will line up against the in-form hosts, led by Liverpool striker and Egyptian national hero Mohamed Salah.

Tunisia - one of the supposed "bigger" Africa teams who have been probably as poor as South Africa - were held to a draw by Mauritania in a 9pm kickoff Group E game.

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That result, along with Mali's 1-0 win against Angola, completed a confusing set of mathematical permutations that saw Bafana finish in fourth place on the third-placed table, and past the group stage at a Nations Cup for the first time since reaching the quarterfinals on home soil in 2013.

This turn of events came despite the South Africans conceding a last-gasp 90th-minute strike to Mbark Bousouffa at Al Salam Stadium on Monday night to lose their finjal Group D game 1-0.

That result - plus a 1-0 opening defeat against Ivory Coast and 1-0 win against Namibia - saw the South Africans finish third in Group D with three points and a -1 goal difference.

Kenya's 3-0 defeat against Senegal in a later game on Monday night gave Bafana some hope, as they went to third place on the table of third-placed finishers.

The top two teams and four best third-placed finishers from six groups in the new, expanded 24-team Nations Cup progress to the last-16.

SA needed a number of results in the final Group E and F matches on Tuesday night to go their way to remain in the top four.

In the 6pm kickoff Group F games Ghana beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0, but Benin managed a 0-0 draw against Cameroon to jump above South Africa into third place on the third-placed table, as Bafana dropped to fourth.

Then the later Group E results did go SA's way. Tunisia's draw saw them finish second to Mali, and progress. Mauritania finished level on two points with Angola.

The final third-placed table had Guinea in first place with four points; Democratic Republic of Congo and Benin were next, both with three points and a 0 goal difference; and Bafana were fourth with three pioints and a -1 difference.

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