Mamelodi Sundowns' Ronwen Williams emerged on Saturday as the first goalkeeper to save four penalty kicks out of five in a shootout at any AFCON tournament. His excellent performance led the Bafana Bafana of South Africa to painfully advance into the 2023 finals after a hard-fought 120 minutes of regular time that ended goalless.
The nail-biting match in Yamassoukro ended 2-1, as the Cape Verdeans shot their first three penalty kicks to Williams' right. The unique aspect was that he waited on the white lines and did not hurry to dive, thereby simply stopping especially the first three consecutive shots.
Cape Verde had 25 shots at goal with only 2 on target during regular time, while South Africa had 16 shots on target but 6 on goal. The Blue Sharks came with blunt teeth and could not bite the South African Boys, even with a 10-4 corner kick advantage.
Bebe’s tactic for Cape Verde to shoot from 20 yards and beyond, which he did several times, did not work, as both goalkeepers made daring saves.
Both sides are meeting for the second time in AFCON games; the last was a 0-0 draw in the group stage in 2013 when South Africa hosted.
South Africa reached the quarterfinals in three of their last four appearances, but they are looking forward to reaching the semifinals for the first time since 2000 when they lost to Nigeria 0-2.
Cape Verde was seeking its first semifinal appearance since losing in the quarterfinals to Ghana 0-2 in 2013.
Cape Verdeans had good control of the ball with the highest record at AFCON 2023 (95 dribbles, 44 of which were successful).
In the Round of 16 alone, the Blue Shark players attempted 34 dribbles against Mauritania, and 13 were successful, the highest total in an AFCON match this year.
South Africa defeated Cape Verde, sometimes called Cabo Verde, 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier on 5th June 2005; played goalless in an AFCON duel on 20th January 2013 in South Africa; Cape Verde defeated South Africa 2-1 in the World Cup qualifier on 1st September 2017, and in the same year on 5th of September, South Africa lost to Cape Verde 1-2 at the return leg of the World Cup qualifier in Jo’Burg.
Cape Verde confounded the Black Stars of Ghana 2-1; dazzled Mozambique 3-0 and drew 2-2 with the Pharaohs of Egypt in the Group games before narrowly dismissing stubborn giant-killers, Mauritania 1-0 in the Round of 16.
South Africa lost to Mali 0-2; humbled neighbors Namibia 4-0 in a sibling duel and played goalless with the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in the group games before defeating African No. 1 team, the Atlas Lion of Morocco, in a pulsating 2-0 win at the Round of 16.
South Africa, ranked 66th in the world and 12th in Africa, is making her 12th appearance at AFCON. In 1996, South Africa hosted and won 2-0 over Tunisia; she won Silver in 1998 at Burkina Faso, losing to Egypt 0-2; South Africa won Bronze at the Nigeria/Ghana hosting of 2000, beating Tunisia on penalties 4-3 after 2-2 at full time, and South Africa hosted in 2013 failing to win a medal.
Cape Verde, ranked 14th in Africa, is appearing for the 4th time, but her best result was a quarterfinal at South Africa 2013 when Ghana dismissed her 2-0 at Port Elizabeth on 2nd February 2013. The Cape Verdeans, with today’s result, appear jinxed and unable to go beyond the quarters.
Four of the eight teams in the quarterfinals have won trophies before: Nigeria thrice in 1980, 1994, and 2013; Ivory Coast in 1992 and 2015; DR Congo in 1968 and 1974, as well as South Africa in 1996.
Semi Finals pairing: Nigeria vs South Africa, Ivory Coast vs Congo DR.