In a nail-biting quarter-final encounter at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro, South Africa secured a spot in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals by defeating Cape Verde 5-3 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes.
The Charles Konan Banny Stadium witnessed an intense clash between the two teams, with both goalkeepers, Ronwen Williams of South Africa and Vozinha of Cape Verde, delivering stellar performances to keep the match goalless in regular time.
The first half showcased attacking intent from both sides, but the goalkeepers and resolute defending prevailed, leaving the scoreboard untouched at halftime. The second half followed a similar pattern, with chances created but none converted.
Cape Verde almost secured a late victory in added time, but Gelson Tavares's shot hit the bar after a fingertip save from Williams. With no goals after 90 minutes, the match went into extra time, where both teams continued to battle for a breakthrough.
The additional 30 minutes saw Fagrie Lakay's attempt saved by Vozinha, maintaining the deadlock. As the tension heightened, the match proceeded to a penalty shootout.
In a stunning display of goalkeeping prowess, Ronwen Williams made four crucial penalty saves, propelling South Africa to a 5-3 victory in the shootout. The win secured Bafana Bafana's place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2000, setting up a clash with Nigeria.
Post-match reactions captured the essence of the dramatic encounter:
Hugo Bruce – South African coach:
“When we have a goalkeeper who stops 4 penalty kicks, this is not luck but a lot of hard work… Reaching the semi-finals is in itself a good thing for South African football.”
Bobista – Cape Verde coach:
“We had a good journey, and we also deserved to be in the semi-finals. Our people will be happy with what we presented in the competition… I am proud of our players; they showed their character.”
South Africa's goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, humble in victory, credited the entire team and staff for their collective effort. He acknowledged the challenging journey and tough moments but emphasized that the success belonged to everyone in Bafana Bafana.
The semi-final clash against Nigeria awaits Bafana Bafana on Wednesday, 07 February, at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake.