Williams on the spot again as Bafana grab AFCON bronze

Bafana won 6-5 in the shootout after a goalless draw with DRC.

Ronwen Williams stepped up in a penalty shootout once more, saving two spot kicks as South Africa beat DR Congo to Africa Cup of Nations bronze at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on Saturday evening.

After a goalless draw in which Bafana rode their luck a little, Teboho Mokoena’s opening penalty hit the post, but Wiliiams then saved DR Congo’s fifth spot kick from Chancel Mbemba and after Siyanda Xulu scored for Bafana, he saved from Meshack Elia to ensure Bafana won the shootout 6-5 to match the class of 2000 and finish third at the AFCON.

Bafana head coach Hugo Broos made a few changes, as expected, from the semifinal win over Nigeria, with Percy Tau ruled out and Mihlali Mayambela coming into the starting line-up, while Thapelo Morena also returned after missing the game against the Super Eagles.

At the back, Nkosinathi Sibisi replaced the suspended Grant Kekana, while Mothobi Mvala was also out injured.

The DRC had a chance to take the lead inside the first 20 seconds as Grady Diangana found space inside the area, but dragged his shot badly wide.

In the 9th minute, playmaker Theo Bongonda produced a sublime through ball to send Silas Katompa through on goal, but Williams continued his fine tournament by reaching out and grabbing the ball as Katompa tried to go round him.

Mayambela then sprinted onto a long ball from the back, and produced a decent cutback, but no one from Bafana was in position to strike. In the 20th minute, Mokoena slid a good pass in for Evidence Makgopa, but he blazed his effort a long way off target.

The DRC suffered a blow in the 33rd minute, as Bongonda pulled up with a muscle injury and was replaced by Meshack Elia.

This didn’t slow the Leopards down at all though and one scintillating run and cross from Meshack almost produced a chance but Siyanda Xulu produced a fine challenge to clear the danger.

The DRC came out fired up after the break, and created a string of chances, but Simon Banza blazed well off target, as did Diangana from the edge of the box.

Hugo Broos took over Makgopa, giving Polokwane City strike Oswin Appollis his first chance of the tournament in the 57th minute.

A rare Williams error

Congo should have taken the lead in the 65th minute as a howler from Williams presented possession to Meshack and his cross was headed by Aubrey Modiba straight to Katompa, but he fired into the side netting from close range.

Bafana then had a good chance as Mokoena released Mayambela, but his shot wasn’t powerful enough to beat Lionel Mpasi.

With no extra time in the third-place play-off the game went straight to penalties and just as he had done against Cape Verde in the quarterfinals, captain fantastic Williams stepped up to the mark to cap a fantastic tournament for him and his sided.