South Africa beat DR Congo on penalties to secure third-place

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South Africa beat DR Congo on penalties to secure third-place
South Africa took third place at the Afcon finals

The tournament concludes today in Abidjan with hosts Ivory Coast facing Nigeria in the final with a seven million dollar prize on the line

ABIDJAN - Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saved the 14th of a cagey penalty shootout on Saturday to help South Africa to their best Africa Cup of Nations finish since 2000.

DR Congo's Chancel Mbemba tamely fired the decisive fifth penalty with his team on the front to hand Williams, who looked a shadow of his impressive tournament performance, a chance to settle the bronze medal match that had ended goalless after the regulation time.

There was no extra-time in match for two teams that had both been drained in their semifinals defeats and made several changes to their starting XI.

Williams, who saved four penalties in the quarterfinal game against Caper Verde, would then save from Meshack Elia to seal the shootout in which Tebogo Mokoena had stepped up first and skewed his spot kick against the outside of the left post.

Bafana Bafana players gave Belgian coach Hugo Broos the bumps after adding a third-place finish to his 2017 triumph with Cameroon.

Bafana Bafana last ended up on the podium in 2000, when beating Tunisia on penalties, while DR Congo were looking for their best tournament since 1998.

Frenchman Sebastien Desabre's DR Congo will regret many misses chances during regular time in a lively match while South Africa maintained a perfect record in third place play-offs having beaten Tunisia on penalties 24 years ago.

The Congolese, who had eight of the nine players Desabre dropped - including Premier League side Brentford's Yoane Wissa - on the bench, had less of the ball in the opening half at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivorian economic capital, they were the more threatening team in the attacking third.

Silas Mvumpa could have broken the deadlock early in the eighth minute but Williams was even to the gangly Congolese' attempt to go around him in the area.

It took South Africa 43 minutes to get a shot on target and mid point of the second half, the Congolese showed more hunger to win the game but they failed to find the password even when Williams fumbled a loose ball and the lively Silas Mbanza fired wide when he should at least have hit the target.

The tournament concludes today in Abidjan with hosts Ivory Coast facing Nigeria in the final with a seven million dollar prize on the line. The countries met at the group stage last month in the same venue and the Super Eagles won 1-0 thanks to a William Troost-Ekong penalty.

 

MATCH FACTS

South Africa finished on the podium of an Africa Cup of Nations for the fourth time in their history, after 1996 (champion), 1998 (finalist) and 2000 (third). Bafana Bafana have conceded just three goals in seven games at this 2023 AFCON, having conceded fewer goals in a single edition only in their first appearance in 1996 (2 in 6 matches).

This is the second time that DR Congo have finished fourth in an Africa Cup of Nations, after 1972. The Leopards finished third in their last two appearances at this stage of the competition, winning on penalty shoot-outs in 1998 and 2015.

South Africa is the first nation to play three consecutive penalty shoot-outs in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations. Bafana Bafana have won three of their five penalty shoot-outs at the AFCON, including two in the third place game (v Tunisia in 2000 and v DR Congo today).

South Africa have completed 87.6% of their passes against DR Congo, their highest percentage in an Africa Cup of Nations game since 2010.

Simon Banza, of DR Congo, have recorded 12 touches in South Africa's box, with only Mostafa Mohamed having a higher tally in a single game during this edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (15 v Cabo Verde in the group stage).

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