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Williams’ Valiant efforts Propel South Africa into the Cup of Nations Semifinals

YAMOUSSOUKRO: Following a goalless draw in their last-eight match, South Africa defeated Cape Verde 2-1 on penalties to go to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals on Saturday. The game’s hero was goalkeeper and captain Ronwen Williams, who made four saves throughout the shootout.

After 120 minutes at Yamoussoukro, Williams had already made one crucial stop at the end of regulation time, sending the game to penalties where it ended 0-0. He then put on an incredible display to stop penalties from Bebe, Willy Semedo, Laros Duarte, and Patrick Andrade as South Africa—who themselves missed two penalty kicks—moved on to a Wednesday matchup with Nigeria in the round of four.

“We had a pretty good ‘keeper today, so we were not very fortunate. Hugo Broos, the coach of South Africa, stated that it is no longer luck if you can stop four penalties. “Yes, he was man of the match because he not only accomplished that but also saved us two minutes before the finish with a player who was alone in front of him. I don’t think anyone else could be your choice.

The Mamelodi Sundowns player, 32, acknowledged the South African backroom staff but declined to take full credit for his valiant efforts. “I commend the analysts.” They cut a ton of videos and get me ready. We research the clubs. I attempt to identify patterns by studying them as well,” he remarked.

“It is great that the analysts are working hard because it is difficult to obtain footage of some of those players because they play all over the world. My phone is filled with penalty clips.” South Africa has advanced to their first AFCON semifinal since their arguably heyday, when they won the championship as hosts in 1996, placed second in 1998, and came in third in 2000.

“Proud” Cape Verde coach

While they will be disappointed with their lackluster performance in the penalty shootout despite having the greatest opportunities during the game, Cape Verde will return home at the conclusion of a season that saw them win a Cup of Nations knockout tie for the first time.

Coach Pedro “Bubista” Brito stated, “I think we deserved to be in the semi-finals in some way.” “I am really pleased with my team; I believe we had a great campaign. We demonstrated that a small nation like ours could compete by always playing to attack and being well-organized when the ball was out of play.

“Cape Verdeans should be proud of what we have accomplished.” As one approached the Charles Konan Banny Stadium via the empty, broad avenues of the capital of Ivory Coast, it was difficult to shake the feeling that the big event was taking place in Bouake, 100 kilometers to the north, at the other quarterfinal on Saturday.

At kickoff, the stadium was nearly empty, but as the game progressed, spectators began to pour in, many of them sporting the Ivory Coast national team’s orange uniform. Those who were not present at the start did not miss much, as neither team had a clear opportunity until somewhat after the hour had passed.

With Joao Paulo Fernandes filling in for Garry Rodrigues, who could only fire straight at Williams, Cape Verde had a chance. In the 78th minute, Jovane Cabral missed a chance from a prime position, signaling the start of extra time.

However, Cape Verde had a chance to end it earlier when Gilson Tavares Benchimol, a substitute, was sent in, but Williams deflected his powerful shot onto the underside of the bar. It took until the second minute of extra time for South Africa to cause real problems for Vozinha, the Cape Verdean goalkeeper, who promptly made two excellent saves from close range attempts, one from Evidence Makgopa and the other from Mihlali Mayambela. They moved on to the penalties, and Williams was the key. -AFP

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