On a dramatic Saturday evening at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro, Ronwen Williams showcased his goalkeeping prowess, producing four incredible saves in the penalty shootout to help Bafana Bafana secure a spot in the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The South African captain’s heroics were not limited to the shootout alone, as he also made a crucial stop in stoppage time during regular play to keep the scores goalless.
Facing Cape Verde, Bafana Bafana were not at their best, but their excellent defensive display combined with Williams’ brilliance ensured their progression in the tournament.
The Bafana captain’s saves came against Bebe, Willy Semedo, Laros Duarte, and Patrick Andrade, leaving the Cape Verde players frustrated and Bafana fans jubilant. Williams’ outstanding performance was rewarded with a celebratory embrace from Bafana head coach Hugo Broos.
Looking ahead, Bafana Bafana will now face Nigeria in the semifinals on Wednesday. With each passing game, belief within the team is growing that they can emulate the class of 1996 and become African champions once again.
The match against Cape Verde saw Garry Rodrigues return to the starting lineup for the Blue Sharks. Rodrigues had previously scored twice in a 2-1 victory against South Africa in September 2017.
However, Bafana Bafana’s midfielder, Mokoena, aimed to continue his impressive form from the previous match against Morocco. In the tenth minute, Mokoena seized an opportunity created by Morena but fired a powerful shot straight at Vozinha, the Cape Verde goalkeeper.
Mokoena continued to make his presence felt, winning the ball brilliantly in midfield and surging forward to free Zwane. However, under pressure from the Cape Verde defense, Zwane scuffed his shot off target.
Cape Verde’s Kevin Pina had a chance to score from the edge of the area in the 17th minute, but his shot went wide. Mokoena then hit a free kick into the wall and blasted the rebound over the goal.
As the first half progressed, it was the Blue Sharks who finished stronger, pushing Bafana Bafana back. However, they failed to truly test Ronwen Williams.
The Bafana captain did have a concerning moment when he momentarily lost sight of a Ryan Mendes cross, but Khuliso Mudau cleared the danger with Rodrigues lurking at the back post.
Another Mendes cross caused a scramble in the Bafana defense, but Aubrey Modiba made a fine block to deny Cape Verde’s all-time leading goal scorer.
Cape Verde started the second half with determination, and Williams had to be alert to intercept a Jamiro Monteiro cross, with Rodrigues waiting to pounce. Bafana Bafana gradually found their rhythm and, in the 53rd minute, Mokoena set up Makgopa, whose shot from a tight angle went straight at Vozinha.
In the 56th minute, Rodrigues wasted a golden opportunity, bursting clear of the Bafana defense but firing a tame shot too close to Williams. Bafana Bafana created another promising move on the hour mark, with Zwane releasing Tau, but Vozinha intercepted his cross just in front of Makgopa.
Both teams made changes, with Thapelo Maseko coming on for Morena, while Cape Verde coach Pedro Brito substituted both Mendes and Rodrigues. Former Manchester United attacker Bebe finally made an appearance in the 73rd minute, immediately causing problems for the Bafana defense.
Bebe nutmegged Mudau with a cheeky cross, and Jovane Cabral fired just over from Kenny Rocha Santos’ cut back.
In stoppage time, Cape Verde came close to winning the match as substitute Gilson broke the offside trap. However, Williams produced an outstanding save, tipping Gilson’s effort onto the bar. With the game deadlocked, it went into extra time.
Bafana Bafana almost took the lead twice within 30 seconds during extra time. First, Makgopa chested the ball down for substitute Mihlali Mayambela, but Vozinha blocked his effort.
Then, Vozinha made an even better save to deny Makgopa’s point-blank header. Gilson had a chance to snatch victory for Cape Verde but dragged his effort wide.
With neither team able to secure a victory in extra time, the match ultimately came down to a penalty shootout. Ronwen Williams once again stole the show, making crucial saves to secure Bafana Bafana’s place in the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations.