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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Four penalty safes save South Africa for AFCON 2023 semi-finals

Four penalty safes save South Africa for AFCON 2023 semi-finals

South Africa booked their place in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in dramatic fashion to keep their unlikely run going.

Ronwen Williams was South Africa’s hero in their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final, saving four of Cape Verde’s five spot-kicks as the Bafana Bafana prevailed in a penalty shoot-out.

Hugo Broos’ team went into the tournament in Cote d’Ivoire as one of the lower-ranked sides but have earned their place in the final four. After claiming second spot in their group behind Mali, they stunned World Cup semi-finalists Morocco to set up a meeting with fellow surprise package Cape Verde in the quarters.

Williams earned a fourth clean sheet of the tournament, with he and his team-mates keeping their opponents at bay for 120 minutes with one particularly impressive save to tip Gilson Benchimol’s effort onto the woodwork. However, it was in the shoot-out where the captain really earned his stripes.

Bebe, Willy Semedo and Laros Duarte all shot to Williams’ right, and all saw their efforts kept out by the 32-year-old. Two South Africans missed and Bryan Teixeira scored for Cape Verde, meaning Patrick Andrade had a chance to keep South Africa’s opponents in with a chance, but he too couldn’t find a way past the keeper.

Before the quarter-final on Saturday, no goalkeeper had saved a penalty in any AFCON shoot-out in the current edition of the tournament. Senegal’s Moussa Niakhate hit the post in his team’s elimination, while three players – including Egypt keeper Gabaski – failed to hit the target in the Pharaohs’ defeat to DR Congo, but every other shoot-out penalty had been scored.

Williams had also faced a penalty in the round of 16 against Morocco. In that game, though, Achraf Hakimi hit the bar with his effort and it proved costly.

Next up for South Africa is a semi-final against Nigeria. The Super Eagles beat Angola 1-0 in their quarter-final on Friday, with Ademola Lookman scoring the only goal of the game.


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