By Michael Madyira
By Michael Madyira
Bafana Bafana will return home as Africa’s third-best team after a 6-5 penalty shootout victory over a wasteful DR Congo at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny on Saturday.
Following a 0-0 draw in regulation time, the match went straight to penalties where Ronwen Williams became the hero again with two saves.
Saturday’s match was the third successive Afcon match that South Africa took to penalty shootouts.
They atoned for the agony of missing out on the final with victory; and for the second time in their history, Bafana are Afcon bronze medalists. They last achieved the feat back in 2000.
After Teboho Mokoena missed his kick, Williams came through to deny DR Congo captain Chancel Mbemba as well as Meshack Elia.
The Leopards would be ruing a glut of chances they missed, especially in the second half.
Bafana coach Hugo Broos handed defender Nkosinathi Sibisi and forward Mihlali Mayambela their first starts of the tournament with stars like Percy Tau and Mothobi Mvala out injured while Grant Kekana was suspended.
Broos’ DR Congo counterpart Sebastien Desabre made nine changes to the team that was beaten by hosts Ivory Coast in the semi-finals.
He gave starts to the likes of goalkeeper Dimitry Bertaud, Silas Mvumpa, Joris Kayembe, Grady Diangana and Brian Bayeye.
It took just eight minutes for the Leopards to first test Bafana’s defence after Silas broke loose to come one-on-one with Ronwen Williams who did well to save the situation.
South Africa’s first realistic chance at goal came three minutes before half-time when Mayambela’s powerful effort drew a fine save from Bertaud.
A series of near-misses then started for DR Congo in the second half, starting with Simon Banza coming close twice in the opening five minutes of the second stanza.
Williams almost made a costly blunder when he dropped the ball behind his head and DR Congo failed to capitalise on the situation with Silas side-netting on 64 minutes.
The Leopards continued to miss some glorious chances and Mbemba skied his effort from close range with only Williams to beat
After some nice exchanges with substitute Oswin Apollis with five minutes remaining, Mayambela chose to go for the kill from an acute angle instead of cutting into the box.
Hosts Ivory Coast will take on Nigeria in Sunday’s final.
Pictured above: Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saves from Silas Mbvumpa while being shielded by Khuliso Mudau.
Image source: CAF