AFCON: Williams’ Heroics see South Africa into semis, Cote d’Ivoire continue Fairy tale Run

Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was the hero on Saturday night as South Africa beat Cape Verde 2-1 on penalties following a goalless 120 minutes to advance to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals in Cote d’Ivoire.

After a tense last eight clash ended 0-0 at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro, Williams remarkably saved four spot-kicks in the shootout to send Bafana Bafana through. Williams has kept four consecutive clean sheets in AFCON during 90 minutes of play.

“Not many people in South Africa believed in this team, but we believed in it, and the players believed in themselves as well. Reaching the semi-finals is in itself a good thing for South African football,” noted South Africa coach, Hugo Bruce.

Similarly, there was late drama earlier as hosts Cote d’Ivoire pulled off an extraordinary comeback win despite being reduced to 10 men to beat Mali 2-1 after extra time and reach the AFCON semi-finals.

At the Stade de la Paix in Bouake, the Elephants were dealt an early blow when Odilon Kossounou conceded a penalty and was sent off in the first half for fouling Lassine Sinayoko.

However, keeper Yahia Fofana saved Adama Traore’s spot kick to keep the Elehpants level at the break. 

Outnumbered, the hosts were eventually breached in the 71st minute when Mali substitute Nene Dorgeles fired in from the edge of the box to give the Eagles a deserved lead.

But the Ivorians showed tremendous spirit and equalised against the run of play through Simon Adingra, who pounced on a rebound after Seko Fofana’s long-range drive was parried.

The game went to extra time, where the heroics of keeper Fofana kept Mali at bay once more. 

As penalties loomed, Oumar Diakete snatched a dramatic late winner for Ivory Coast with a clever backheel finish in the 119th minute.

In an epic encounter, the Elephants once again showed their fighting spirit to stun another big rival and keep their AFCON dream alive.

Cotê d’Ivoire will play DR Congo in the semi-finals at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Wednesday, February 7.

South Africa, secured their place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2000, will play Nigeria in the other semi-final at the Stade de la Paix, Bouake, also on Wednesday.


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