Lucky Bafana Bafana clinch third against Wasteful DRC

Lucky Bafana Bafana clinch third against Wasteful DRC
Photo by Icon Sport

Bafana Bafana took on the Leopards of DR Congo in a game the semi-final losers looked to seek redemption for their AFCON 2023 tournament.

Both sides last found themselves in this position in 2000 (South Africa) and 2015 (DR Congo).

With two third-place finishes to their name, the Leopards sought a third at the expense of Bafana Bafana, who have beaten them twice at AFCON.

The script seemed like both sides did not want the match to go into extra time, as both teams went for the jugular in an open game.

South Africa lost to Nigeria via penalties in the semi-finals, while DR Congo lost 1-0 to the hosts Ivory Coast.

South Africa ensured they finished AFCON 2023 on a high as they beat Dr Congo via penalties to finish third.

Bafana Bafana draw blanks in open first half

Mvumpa failed to round Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Ronwen Williams
Photo by Icon Sport

Bafana Bafana started the game casually but lost possession to the Leopards, who could not make use of the chances they got.

The Leopards of DR Congo were on the front foot early in the game, pegging South Africa into their box as they struggled to come out of their area.

Slowly, Bafana Bafana started emerging from their shell and were dictating the pace, but they found no joy from a resolute DR Congo side.

In the sixth minute, the Congolese broke forward again, but another poor pass helped South Africa slam the door shut on the attack.

DR Congo had the chance to open scores in the eighth minute when Silas Mvumpa bore down on the South African goal, but Ronwen Williams stood his ground and stopped the ball as he tried to go around him.

Bafana Bafana went up the other end of the pitch and could have gotten the opener, but nobody was in the box to receive Teboho Mokoena’s pass.

The first half was open, with both teams going at each other recklessly.

Bafana Bafana kept trying to unlock the DR Congo defence with intricate passes, but it didn’t work as DR Congo outnumbered them in the final phase of play.

The Leopards had the better chances, but poor decisions robbed them of a goal.

In the 30th minute, Theo Bongonda left the pitch with what looked like a hamstring injury and was replaced by Mechak Elia.

The Congolese side kept exposing the Bafana Bafana backline. In the 38th minute, after another breakaway, Grady Diangana curled a ball into the box, but it was beyond the reach of a lunging Simon Banza.

The closest Bafana Bafana came to scoring was in the 43rd minute when Mihlali Mayambela struck a shot from outside the box. Dimitry Bertaud made short work of it.

The Bafana Bafana defence was working over time, and Siyanda Xulu was in time to intercept a pass for a lunging Banza in the 45th minute.

The first half ended goalless, with Bafana Bafana under the cosh for most of the game.

Wasteful Leopards show a lack of bite

DR Congo were wasteful against Bafana Bafana
Photo by Icon Sport

DR Congo started the second half in the same gear as the first. In the 46th minute, Bayeye almost intercepted a cross to put into the Bafana Bafana net from the near post, but Williams was alert.

A minute later, Banza failed to control the ball inside the six-yard box and let the ball roll to Williams.

The pressure was on Bafana Bafana as the Leopards were swamping their defence like ravenous Wolves.

In the 50th minute, Diangana teed up Banza in the box, but his shot hit the side netting.

A minute later, it was Banza to return the compliment as he teed up Diangana with a well-cushioned header, but Diangana blazed his shot over the bar.

Bafana Bafana was not at the races, but profligacy robbed DR Congo of goals.

The Leopards tested Williams again in the 58th minute via a free kick, but the shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

DR Congo walked a dangerous line as Bafana Bafana kept looking for half chances to punish the Leopards for their wasted opportunities.

In the 64th minute, the best chance of the day came for DR Congo. Meshak Ella had a gaping net before him after Williams had fumbled a clearance, but he could not hit the target.

Silas latched on to the ball, but his shot was wayward as it hit the side netting.

South Africa looked exhausted, with the Leopards doing most of the playing but wasted too many chances.

A minute after DR Congo wasted another golden opportunity, Mayambela received a pass at the edge of the DR Congo box, but his shot was tame and dealt with by Bertaud.

Bafana Bafana was all over the place, and Banza could have scored in the 75th minute, but he shot over the bar when before a gaping net.

Mayambela could have scored for South Africa in the 85th minute. The striker hit a shot that Bertaud blocked for a corner kick.

It seemed DR Congo was under a hex. In the 90th minute, Mayele received a long pass in the box. He brought it down with his chest and rifled a shot that skimmed across the face of the goal.

Wissa was the next culprit for the Leopards, inside added time as he whizzed another shot from inside the box off target.

The second half ended 0-0, not because of solid defending by Bafana Bafana, but because of the profligacy of DR Congo, who were wasteful.

It was the worst performance of South Africa at AFCON 2023, leaving everyone wondering how they were able to hold the Super Eagles for 120 minutes.

Straight to penalties

Mokoena took the first penalty for South Africa and like against Nigeria, he missed, with his shot coming off the upright.

The penalties following Mokoena's kick saw both sides score until Mbemba missed the last spot kick for DR Congo, sending the penalties into sudden death.

Ronwen Williams then saved in sudden death to give South Africa victory.

South Africa vs. DR Congo stats

  South Africa DR Congo
Shots on target 1 2
Shots off target 2 6
Blocked Shots 1 0
Possession (%) 64 36
Offsides 1 1
Fouls 4 8
Throw-ins 7 5
Yellow cards 0 1
GK saves 2 1
Goal kicks 8 4

South Africa:
Ronwen Williams, Khuliso Johnson Mudau, Siyanda Xulu, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Aubrey Modiba, Teboho Mokoena, Sphephelo Sithole, Themba Zwane, Mihlali Mayambela, Evidence Makgopa, Thapelo Morena

Subs: Zakhele Lepasa, Thabang Monare, Jayden Adams, Terrence Mashego, Veli Mothwa, Ricardo Goss, Nyiko Mobbie, Oswin Appollis

DR Congo:
Dimitry Bertaud, Brian Jephte Bayeye, Chancel Mbemba, Dylan Batubinsika, Kayembe, Samuel Moutoussamy, Grady Diangana, Aaron Tshibola, Theo Bongonda, Simon Banza, Silas Katompa Mvumpa

Subs: Lionel Nzau Mpasi, F. Mayele, Cedric Bakambu, Mechak Elia, Yoane Wissa, Charles Pickel, Omenuke Mfulu, Arthur Masuaku, Gedeon Kalulu, Rocky Bushiri, Henock Inonga, Baggio Siadi Ngusia

This article was most recently revised and updated 5 months ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter. Chooka has a passion for football and has been a fan of Enugu Rangers (over 30 years) and Real Madrid (Since 1996).