AFCON AFCON 2023: Williams Heroic Penalty Saves Send South Africa To Semi final

South Africa are through to the Semi final of the AFCON 2023 following a 2-1 penalty shootout win against Cape Verde on Saturday night

The Bafana Bafana will be playing in the semi finals of the AFCON for the first time in 15 years.

They played out a goalless draw against Cape Verde in an exhilarating game that saw both teams failed to score in 90 minutes before the game headed to extra time.

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Over the course of an evenly contested 120 minutes, both teams had opportunities to score, but goalkeepers Ronwen Williams and Vozinha each made crucial stops to save a goal and force a shootout.

Then, Williams solidified his role as the day’s MVP by saving four penalties from the Blue Sharks to help his team go to the semifinals.

With chances for Kevin Pina, Kenny Rocha Santos, and Ryan Mendes that they did not fully capitalise on—not even forcing South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams into a save—Cape Verde was the more dominant team at the beginning and conclusion of the half.

Themba Zwane and Percy Tau, among others, found it difficult to enter the game, but Bafana Bafana momentarily found their passing game and had one long-range chance from Teboho Mokoena, which goalkeeper Vozinha easily stopped.

The Blue Sharks generated the best chance of the first half in the 40th minute when an overload down the left gave the dangerous Mendes a cutback and a shooting opportunity, but Aubrey Modiba stopped his shot.
In the first few minutes of the second stanza, South Africa mounted several impressive attacks. However, on minute 56, Cape Verde created a clear opening when Garry Rodrigues snuck in behind the defenders and fired a low shot straight at Williams.

Shortly after the hour, Bafana made an aggressive substitution, sending Thapelo Maseko in for Thapelo Morena. Meanwhile, the Blue Sharks substituted Willy Semedo and Patrick Andrade, unexpectedly pulling out Mendes and Pina.

In the remaining 90 minutes of play, Cape Verde had the better opportunities. Two minutes into injury time, substitute Gilson Tavares broke free in the penalty area and had a great chance to win the game, but Williams tipped his shot onto the woodwork.

Early in the extra period, Vozinha made two excellent stops in quick succession to block shots from Evidence Makgopa and Mihlali Mayambela. At the other end, Gilson curled a shot across the goal.

Although neither team had any clear opportunities in the second half of extra time, South Africa was dealt a major blow when Maseko, who was expected to take a penalty, pulled up with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Terrence Mashego.

However, the outstanding Williams dominated the shootout, stopping kicks from Duarte, Andrade, Bebe, and Semedo to help his team win 2-1 and make it to the Afcon final four for the first time since 2000.

Prior to Williams saves, no goalkeeper has saved four penalties in the history of the AFCON as he was voted Man of the Match.

The first semifinal matchup between South Africa and Nigeria is scheduled for Wednesday, February 7 at Bouake’s Stade de la Paix.

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