In Saturday’s third-place play-off match of the Africa Cup of Nations, South Africa defeated the Democratic Republic of Congo 6–5 on penalties, with captain and custodian Ronwen Williams emerging victorious once more.
Ninety minutes in Abidjan ended in a 0-0 draw. Williams then turned away spot kicks from Meschack Elia and Chancel Mbemba to give Bafana Bafana the bronze medal in the Ivory Coast.
Siyanda Xulu converted before Elia’s kick was saved, giving South Africa the clear advantage in the penalty shootout.Last weekend, following a goalless quarterfinal match, Williams saved four shootout attempts to help South Africa defeat Cape Verde.
In a close game, DR Congo will be disappointed with the numerous opportunities they lost in regular time. Having defeated Tunisia 24 years prior on penalties, South Africa continued to have a perfect record in the third-place play-offs.
After an event-filled semifinal match three days prior, South Africa made three changes to the squad that lost to Nigeria in a penalty shootout.In place of injured teammates Mothobi Mvala and Percy Tau, as well as suspended Grant Kekana, were Nkosinathi Sibisi, Thapelo Morena, and Mihlali Mayambela.
Just two players from the team that lost to the hosts Ivory Coast in the other semifinal were kept by DR Congo: midfielder Samuel Moutoussamy and captain and center-back Mbemba.
However, eight out of the nine players who were benched remained on the pitch, giving French coach Sebastien Desabre plenty of options if he wanted to make adjustments.
In the first half at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the Ivorian capital, the Congolese team had more possession of the ball, but they also posed a greater threat in the attacking third.
Eight minutes in, the physically powerful Silas Mvumpa nearly broke the deadlock, but the custodian grabbed the ball as he attempted to go around Williams in the area.
Halfway through the half, Simon Banza manoeuvred himself into a dangerous position near the South African goal, only to chip in a weak shot that was harmless.It took South Africa forty-three minutes to get on target, despite some excellent build-up play.
Mayambela’s effort went straight to custodian Dimitry Bertaud.Congo looked to be the team more likely to break the deadlock as the game approached the halfway point of the second half.
After Williams mishandled the ball and lost control, it crossed the goal line, and Silas missed the mark when he ought to have at least connected.It was also Mbemba’s turn to take a risk and go forward for a free-kick, but when the ball fell into his path near the goal, he blasted over. Also squandering an opportunity was substitute Fiston Mayele.
With a seven million dollar prize on the line, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast will compete in the final of this exciting tournament on Sunday in a different stadium in Abidjan.
William Troost-Ekong’s penalty kick helped the Super Eagles defeat the nations 1-0 during their group stage match at the same location last month.