South Africa keeper Williams saves four penalties to drop Cape Verde
Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was the hero as South Africa beat Cape Verde 5-3 on penalties following a goalless 120 minutes to advance to the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.
After a tense last eight clash ended 0-0 at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro on Saturday night, Williams remarkably saved four spot-kicks in the shootout to send Bafana Bafana through.
Both sides started brightly in an open first half, but stellar defending and top-class goalkeeping from Williams and Cape Verde’s Vozinha kept the game goalless at the break.
The second half followed a similar pattern as the teams traded blows in search of the breakthrough. But a combination of desperation and brilliant defending saw numerous chances go begging.
Cape Verde almost stole it in added time when Gelson Tavares pounced on a deep ball only to smash his shot off the bar with Williams getting a hand to it. 0-0 after 90 minutes meant extra time.
The additional 30 minutes brought more chances, with South Africa’s Fagrie Lakay forcing a superb save from Vozinha. But the deadlock remained to send the quarter-final into penalties.
After an impressive four penalty saves by Williams, Bafana Bafana secured their place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2000 where they will meet Nigeria.
Hugo Bruce – South African coach
“When we got to the penalty shootout, it was a special thing for the players, because during training they were scoring them. When we have a goalkeeper who stops 4 penalty kicks, this is not luck but a lot of hard work.
Not many people in South Africa believed in this team, but we believed in it, and the players believed in themselves as well. Reaching the semi-finals is in itself a good thing for South African football.
There was a lot of pressure in the match. Everyone wanted to qualify. This match was unlike the previous ones. We did not show the same performance as we had in previous matches.
The semi-final match will be different against Nigeria, which has good players like Lookman. We will not lose focus. The players will be in good condition, so we need to rest and recover to start our preparation”.
Bobista – Cape Verde coach
“Congratulations to South African. We wanted to win the match, but this is football. In my opinion, we had several chances to win this match. We have a good team, and we also faced a good competitor. We had several chances to kill the match, but we were not able to.
We had a good journey, and we also deserved to be in the semi-finals. Our people will be happy with what we presented in the competition.
We were the best in some phases of this match, and you know in such competitions, when you fail to score it will be complicated, and as for penalty kicks, sometimes there is luck.
The players who took the penalties are the best in our team, but when you are tired it is difficult. I am proud of our players, they showed their character.”
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