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Williams the hero as South Africa claim 3rd place at AFCON

Filed under: Breaking News,Sports |
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South African goal keeper and captain

South Africa took third at the Africa Cup of Nations after beating DR Congo 6-5 on penalties to secure their best finish at a Nations Cup since 2000.

Bafana Bafana captain Ronwen Williams was the key man again, as the quarter-final hero saved two spot-kicks.

First, DR Congo captain Chancel Mbemba had the chance to win it, only for Williams to block, before Meshack Elia’s penalty was also saved.

The game, which ended goalless, went straight to penalties after 90 minutes.

In the quarter-final win against Cape Verde, Williams saved four penalties in the shootout.

In Abidjan’s Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium, he again proved key after Tebogo Mokoena, who has been a key factor in South Africa’s run in Ivory Coast, hit the post with the first penalty. Shortly after the skipper secured South Africa’s success, Belgian coach Hugo Broos was given the bumps after adding a third-place finish to his 2017 triumph with Cameroon.

Bafana Bafana last ended up on the podium in 2000, when beating Tunisia on penalties, while DR Congo were looking for their best tournament since 1998.

DR Congo meanwhile, missed out on finishing third for the first time since 1998, which is when South Africa last contested a Nations Cup final and two years after their only triumph.

The Leopards will wonder how they failed to beat South Africa after missing several chances late on, with Mbembe and Fiston Mayele wasting very inviting opportunities.

Williams shines again
South Africa, who have now won all three of their Nations Cup encounters with DR Congo, will feel their dramatic victory rewards a campaign when they have both surprised and impressed many observers.

Having fielded a starting XI largely composed of players from Pretoria-based Mamelodi Sundowns, the settled side have conceded just one goal in their last six games – in the semi-final defeat to Nigeria.

Nonetheless, they rode their luck against the Congolese – who had made nine changes to the team beaten in the semi-finals – on several occasions.

Fielding two players who had not played at all in Ivory Coast, the Leopards sgot in behind South Africa’s defence on many occasions, with Silas and striker Simon Banza failing to trouble Williams when played in behind.

A hard-fought first period ended with just one shot on goal apiece, with DR Congo forcing nearly all the best moments throughout the 90 minutes, only to rarely test Williams.

After the break, Silas failed to hit the target after the goalkeeper made a rare error, dropping a gift of possession to Elia whose cross caused havoc in the South African defence.

After top-scorer Yoane Wissa was introduced 20 minutes from time, the Congolese pressure intensified but Mbemba, who has led his nation superbly in Ivory Coast, got a volley horribly wrong when free in front of goal.

While South Africa threatened briefly through Mihlali Miyambela, Fiston Mayele then failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy in the 90th minute.

“We needed to be more clinical and we lost the game because of that,” said DR Congo defender Dylan Batubinsika.

-BBC Sports News

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