AFCON 2023: Four takeaways as Bafana Bafana defeats Cape Verde in penalty shootouts

AFCON 2023: Four takeaways as Bafana Bafana defeats Cape Verde in penalty shootouts
Credit: Icon Sport

South Africa's Bafana Bafana booked their place in the semi-final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after defeating Cape Verde 2-1 in penalty shootouts.

Four spectacular Ronwen Williams saves saw Bafana Bafana through to their first last four appearance in this competition since 2000.

It was not a vintage performance from Hugo Broos' side, but they got the job done as qualification is all that counts at this stage!

Here are four takeaways from the important win.

Cape Verde lacked precision

The Blue Sharks dominated South Africa in the game as their high pressing and quick moving of the ball distorted Bafana's more experienced midfielders from taking control of the game.

Cape Verde displayed attacking brilliance that failed to result in goals as only 2 of their 25 shots went on target.

Had Bubista's men showcased ruthlessness, the match would have been decided in regular time.

And it was during the shout-out that the Blue Sharks got punished from their failure to be decisive as four of their five penalty takers saw their attempts saved by Williams (Bafana Bafana's goalie).

Cape Verde players with Percy Tau
Credit: Icon Sport

Bafana Bafana are solid as a rock at the back

Broos' men had a shaky start to the Africa Cup of Nations where they lost 2-0 to Mali but since then, Bafana have found their defensive solidity. They have now kept four clean sheets in a row as the team collectively improved.

The pairing of Grant Kekana and Mothobi Mvala at the heart of the defense, and Aubrey Modiba and Khuliso Mudau as left/right-backs has formed a formidable shield for Ronwen Williams in goal.

Ronwen Williams was at his best

Williams has proven to be a tough goalkeeper in this AFCON tournament so far. Aside from the 2-0 loss to Mali, he has not conceded again with four clean sheets in five matches for Bafana Bafana.

After the fiercely contested encounter with Cape Verde ended goalless in 120 minutes of football, it was the Mamelodi Sundowns‘ star who decided the match for South Africa as he made four saves to deny Bebe, Semedo, Duarte, and Andrade from the spot.

His brilliant saves earned him the CAF Player of the Match and if he can be at his best again in their next match, Bafana will have a chance at making the final.

Ronwen Williams saving a penalty during AFCON 2023
Credit: Icon Sport

The penalty shootout is the worst in AFCON 2023

The knockout stage has produced a total of three matches that were decided in penalty shootouts.

The first was between Egypt and DR Congo in the Round of 16 which ended 8-7 in favour of the Leopards. The second was between hosts Ivory Coast and Senegal, that ended in a 5-4 in the Elephants' favour.

And in the third shootout of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations between Cape Verde and South Africa, only two players scored from a total of nine penalty takers. It is the worst scoreline so far in the knockout stage when it's decided from the penalty spot.

Next up in line for South Africa

A date with the Super Eagles of Nigeria awaits Bafana Bafana in the semi-finals next Wednesday. The clash will unfold at Stade de la Paix in Bouaké.

Both teams will battle for supremacy and a ticket to reaching the AFCON final. For Nigeria, it will be a chance to win their fourth title. While for South Africa, it will be a chance to win their second title.

Which of these teams will come out on top!

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.