By Mark Glesson
South Africa took third place at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in the Ivory Coast when they edged the Democratic Republic of Congo 6-5 on penalties after a goalless draw at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium on Saturday.
South Africa midfielder Teboho Mokoena hit the outside of the post with the first kick after which the next eight efforts were all successful, leaving DRC captain Chancel Mbemba needing to score to win the contest.
But Bafana goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saved Mbemba’s effort, taking the shootout into sudden death. Williams then saved again from Meschak Elia to win the tie.
No extra time was played in the bronze medal match, which the Congolese dominated despite proving poor in front of goal.
Silas Katompa had two kanse to put DRC ahead, first in the eighth minute with just Williams to beat, but his hesitation allowed the keeper to grab the ball at his feet.
When Williams dropped a high ball in his box midway through the second half, without any pressure on him, Katompa had an even easier chance but shot into the side netting.
Fifteen minutes from the end, DRC striker Simon Banza also had clear sight on goal but botched his effort from point-blank range.
Bafana walk away with the bronze medal at AFCON
— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) February 10, 2024
Substitute Fiston Mayele did well to bring a long ball down on his chest and get goalside of his marker but he, too, missed as his effort in the 89th minute went across the face of goal.
The South Africans, who lost on penalties after extra time in Wednesday’s semifinal to Nigeria, looked moeg as they made only three changes to their lineup, while DRC gave an opportunity to all their reserves with nine changes from their midweek loss to Ivory Coast.
Meanwhile, Bafana coach Hugo Broos admits that the Congolese were better on the day, but says: “This was an exhausted team. We played two games 120 minutes that had gone to penalties, we played against opponents that had one day more rest than we had.
“You saw we were not fresh, but when you see the mentality of the group, we fight for it until the last second of the game…”
I said after the match against Nigeria that I am so proud of the team and everybody saw today why I am so proud of the team.