South Africa secured a historic AFCON bronze medal by defeating DR Congo 6-5 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations third-place play-off. This marks only the second AFCON bronze for Bafana Bafana and their first since the year 2000.
The match in Abidjan saw both teams making strategic changes after their gruelling semi-final defeats. The first half remained goalless, with clear chances eluding both sides. In the second half, DR Congo displayed livelier attacks, but wayward finishing prevented them from taking the lead.
Late in the game, South Africa's substitute Mihlali Mayambela had a chance to secure victory, but his attempt went over the goal. As the match headed to penalties, both teams demonstrated remarkable composure, with the score level at 5-5.
The crucial moment came when DR Congo's Chancel Mbemba missed his penalty, giving South Africa the advantage and securing the bronze. This shootout success marked South Africa's recovery in the tournament, following a slow start.
South Africa vs DR Congo: Match Facts
- South Africa secured its fourth podium finish in AFCON history, having previously won in 1996, reached the final in 1998, and claimed bronze in 2000.
- DR Congo finished fourth for the second time, with their previous fourth-place finish in 1972.
- South Africa is the first nation to engage in three consecutive penalty shoot-outs in AFCON history, winning three of their five shoot-outs.
- South Africa completed 87.6% of their passes against DR Congo, their highest percentage since 2010.
- DR Congo's Simon Banza recorded 12 touches in South Africa's box, showcasing his attacking prowess.
Dylan Batubinsika (DR Congo Defender): Despite the disappointment, Batubinsika highlighted the positives from their AFCON journey, expressing pride in the team's performance and emphasizing the unexpected progress they achieved.
Sabastian Desabre (DR Congo Coach): Desabre acknowledged the disappointment of missing the bronze but emphasized the positive takeaways from the tournament. He praised the team's fighting spirit and progress, particularly considering the absence of DR Congo in the previous edition.
Hugo Broos (South Africa Coach): Broos commended his players' mentality, expressing pride in their performance throughout the tournament. He highlighted the impressive teamwork, even from those on the bench, contributing to the historic third-place finish.