First GB of the CAN

Yesterday, the South Africa team qualified for the semi-finals after eliminating the Cape Verde team on penalties in the second match which ended in a draw between the two teams in the final stages.

The first draw occurred 11 years ago in the edition hosted by South Africa in 2013, and also without a goal.

This is the 15th draw for the South African team and the 6th with a score of (0-0).

It is also the eighth draw for the Cape Verde team and the fourth without a goal.

The South African team qualified for the last four for the fourth time and after 24 years, in 11 participations.

On the other hand, the progress of the Cape Verdean team stopped after five matches without defeat (3 wins and 2 draws), the team's best series out of a total of 16 matches played in 4 participations.

Yesterday's match, led by referee Jean-Jacques NDALA NGAMBO, was his third in the current edition and his seventh for the African Cup of Nations, as the referee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who lead the most CAN matches.

After more than 120 minutes of play, penalties will be necessary for the third time in the current edition and for the 11th time in a quarter-final match of the competition in order to determine the qualified team.

Yesterday's match was the fourth in a row for the South African team with a clean sheet, the best run for the team in the history of their appearances.

Contributing to this series was Ronwen Hayden WILLIAMS who celebrated his 32nd birthday 14 days ago, becoming the first South African goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet for over 400 minutes in an edition of the competition.

With a streak of 414 minutes without conceding a goal, Ronwen Hayden ranks 14th in the ranking of all-time goalkeepers without conceding a goal in the Africa Cup of Nations.

WILLIAMS was not satisfied with this, as he excelled by stopping four shots on goal out of a total of five, a first in the history of the competition.

The South African team was therefore lucky with the lowest score in the history of CAN penalties (2-1) out of a total of 9 penalties.

Ronwen Hayden WILLIAMS became the first goalkeeper to save 4 shots on goal in an African Cup of Nations match.

The old record (3 shots on goal in a match) was registered in the name of the Ivorian Alain GOUAMENE and the Nigerian Vincent ENYEAMA.

Nigeria vs South Africa, Ivory Coast vs DR Congo for AFCON semifinals.

The four semifinalists booked their places following quarterfinals games during which goalkeeping records and penalty shootout lottery were the highlights. Rowen Williams of South Africa could have become the goalkeeper with the most saves in AFCON penalty shootout history.

Nigeria 1 0 Angola

To ensure their 12th AFCON semifinals appearance, Nigeria banked on the fine form that saw them eject Cameroon to frustrate 3-time quarterfinalists Angola at the Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium. With a visibly sleepy CAF boss in attendance, both teams measured equally during the first half with a daring move a-piece: Agostinho Mabululu’s tricky one barely cleared by keeper and then Victor Osimhen’s pin-point header into the keeper’s grip. However Lookman Ademola’s 41st minute curve from a Simon Moses assist put Nigeria ahead before recess. Angola with better ball possession, having ignored their first half defensive approach came close when Ambrosini Antonio latched onto a through ball only to find  the left upright. It later took a VAR check on 75 minutes to rule out a Victor Osimhen header that had found the net after bouncing off substitute keeper Antonio Signori’s grip. The day’s major boys, Victor Osimhen and Lookman Ademola would later leave the pitch just before full time of a game for which Nigeria’s Simon Moses took the Mvp award.

DR Congo 3 1 Guinea

The DR Congo vs Guinea quarterfinal game at the Alassane Dramane Ouattara Olympic stadium was of less intensity that was only heightened when Guinea raised the curtains in the 21st minute from  the spot through Lamine Bayo. Algerian referee Mostafa had ignored consulting the VAR at the moment, rather preferring to validate a dubious penalty from a diving play. DR Congo hit back in the 27th minute with an astounding left foot by defender and captain Chancel Mbemba to the tight angle following a corner kick as he becomes his country’s second oldest AFCON scorer since Nicodème Kabamba in 1968. Mohamed Bayo would later trip Cédric Bakambu for a penalty transformed by Yoane Wissa on 65 minutes. The enthusiasm by Guinea to restore parity would be melted in the 82nd minute following what by all standards should be one of the best goals of the tournament yet with Arthur Masuaku’s 27-metre diagonal direct free kick straight into the net. The Mvp award went to Yoane Wissa of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who reach their sixth AFCON semifinal.

Ivory Coast 2 1 Mali

Book makers were getting set for a penalty shootout lottery following a prolonged stalemate at 1-1 before an ultimate victory goal threw the Stade de la Paix Bouake in wild ecstasy. To get to that, an eighth minute controversy was noted when Mali laid claim to a penalty but Egyptian referee Referee Mohamed Adel ruled out for offside following infos from the VAR officials. They did however have the next foul validated for penalty in the 16th minute when Odilon Kossounou fouled Lassine Sinayoko in the box. But then Ivorian keeper Yahia Fofana dived and stopped the kick. Matters further deteriorated for Ivory Coast when Odilon Kossounou got the second yellow card and earned expulsion causing his team to play one man down all the way. Malian domination later paid off when substitute Nene Doroeles thundered top left from near 30 metres to make it 1-0 on 71 minutes. In the 90th minute Substitute Simon Adingra broke the tight defense to conclude from a Seko Fofana assist. A Sébstien Haller header shortly into extra playtime came off the woodwork. But the anguish from that miss was more than compensated for when juvenile substitute Oumar Diakité deflected a Seko Fofana arrow to score goal number two and match winner. Oumar Diakité  got a read card for pulling off shirt to celebrate the outstanding feat that came in a minute into stoppage time of extra play. As referee Mohamed Adel was escorted amid angry protests from Mali Oumar Diakité was justifiably declared Mvp.

Cabo Verde 0 (1)  0(2) South Africa

There was initially relatively little  intensity lived at the Charles Konan Banny stadium during the second match of the day. Cabo Verde did have the upper hand and actually almost getting a crucial goal at the ultimate instant of the game. But South Africa keeper Ronwen Williams deviated the ball resolutely heading for the net. Minutes later, the Cabo Verde keeper Josimar Vozinha did same to demonstrate that the keepers had had a stranglehold on the destiny of the game. With a goalless 120-minute game, both sides proceeded with the penalty kicks during which the South African keeper Ronwen Williams stopped four kicks according to this roll call: Tiago Bebe raised the curtains but his kick was stopped. Teboho Mkoena took for South Africa and scored. The keeper next stopped Willy Semedo’s kick. Zakhele Lepasa saw his shot sail over the woodwork. The South African keeper again stopped Laros Duarte’s shot as Aubrey Modiba would also see his shot parried by the Cape Verde keeper. Bryan Teixeira raised hopes with a goal  but Mothobi Mvala replicated. And in the final shot for Cabo Verde, Ronwen Williams stopped Andrade’s shot to emerge Mvp and they will now play in their first AFCON semifinals in 24 years. His performance is arguably the best goalkeeper saves in AFCON penalty shootout history.

The two semifinals will be played on Wednesday February 7 as follows: 6pm at Stade de la Paix Bouaké – South Africa vs Nigeria; 9pm at Stade Olympic Alassane Dramane Ouattara Ebimpé – Ivory Coast vs DR Congo.