DR Congo was better than us: South Africa coach after finishing third at AFCON

South Africa captain Ronwen Williams did it again Saturday with two penalty saves in the shootout to beat DR Congo 6-5 on penalties for the Bafana Bafana to finish third at the Africa Cup of Nations.

AP , Sunday 11 Feb 2024,
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Williams
South Africa s goalkeeper #1 Ronwen Williams makes a save during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 third place play-off football match between South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo at Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan on February 10, 2024. AFP

Their match had ended 0-0 after normal time. No extra time was played.

Williams, who made four penalty saves in the quarterfinal win over Cape Verde, saved Chancel Mbemba’s fifth penalty for Congo to keep his team in the match, then saved Meschack Elia’s effort to win it.

Teboho Mokoena hit the left post with South Africa’s first penalty before both teams’ players scored until Mbemba was poised to win it. Williams guessed correctly and saved in the bottom left corner.

It ensured the Bafana Bafana won without creating a clear goal-chance in regular time.

“This was an exhausted team today, of South Africa,” coach Hugo Broos said before pointing to his team’s difficult schedule. “We were not fresh. But when you see the mentality in that group, they fight for it till the last second of the game. There were players who nearly fell from fatigue but still weren’t done.”

Congo forward Silas Katompa Mvumpa had the best early chance when he only had the goalkeeper to beat, but Williams reacted well and was able to pounce on the ball at Silas’ feet.

The Leopards went on to create the better opportunities. Williams got down early to thwart Simon Banza early in the second half, Silas missed another great opportunity in the 65th, and Fiston Mayele went just wide in the final minute of normal time. Yoane Wissa fired the last good chance to the right and wide in stoppage time.

“Congo was better than us, Congo had more chances than us. But again if you fight for it like my players did today, I think they deserve it and I’m very proud of them,” Broos said.

It was the last game of the tournament played in the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny Stadium, whose surrounding streets are home to several thousand noisy bats.

South Africa star Percy Tau missed the match with an injury. Broos said before it that the “ game should not be played.” He had wanted to play in the final on Sunday.

South Africa lost to Nigeria, and Congo lost to Ivory Coast in the semifinals.

Host nation Ivory Coast plays three-time champion Nigeria in Sunday’s final.

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Group A W D L P
Nigeria
2 1 0 7
Equatorial Guinea
2 1 0 7
Cote d Ivoire
1 0 2 3
Guinea Bissau
0 0 3 0
Group B W D L P
Cape Verde
2 1 0 7
Egypt
0 3 0 3
Ghana
0 2 1 2
Mozambique
0 2 1 2
Group C W D L P
Senegal
3 0 0 9
Guinea
1 1 1 4
Cameroon
1 1 1 4
Gambia
0 0 3 0
Group D W D L P
Angola
2 1 0 7
Burkina Faso
1 1 1 4
Mauritania
1 0 2 3
Algeria
0 2 1 2
Group E W D L P
Mali
1 2 0 5
South Africa
1 1 1 4
Namibia
1 1 1 4
Tunisia
0 2 1 2
Group F W D L P
Morocco
2 1 0 7
DR Congo
0 3 0 3
Zambia
0 2 1 2
Tanzania
0 2 1 2