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Afcon 2023: Ronwen Williams saves four spot-kicks as South Africa beat Cape Verde on penalties

Captain Ronwen Williams saved four penalties to help South Africa reach the semi-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations following a 0-0 draw against Cape Verde.

Bebe, Willy Semedo, Laros Duarte and Patrick Andrade were all denied in the shootout by the outstanding Williams, who also made a spectacular late save to tip Benchimol's first-time strike against the woodwork and ensure the gruelling quarter-final entered extra time.

Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha made two exceptional saves in quick succession shortly after extra time began to deny Mihlali Mayambela and Evidence Makgopa.

South Africa will now have the chance to avenge their defeat by Nigeria on their last appearance in the Afcon semi-finals, when they were beaten 2-0 by the Super Eagles in 2000.

Williams sends South Africa to semi-finals

A moment which will perhaps be remembered as the save of the tournament was as close as either team came in normal time during a contest largely characterised by poor finishing.

Williams will undoubtedly be a contender for the Best Goalkeeper award once the tournament is over, and his fingertip save as he sprung into the air to keep out Benchimol's effort by the slightest of margins was a remarkable reflex stop.

Ronwen Williams makes a save for South Africa at Afcon 2023
Ronwen Williams' penalty heroics came after he had made a superb save during second-half added time of normal time

There was even better to come from the 32-year-old when he stopped Cape Verde's first three penalties by diving to his right and thwarted Andrade by leaping in the opposite direction, having appeared to consult notes on a water bottle between each kick.

Cape Verde had more of the possession during the early stages before South Africa midfielder Teboho Mokoena blasted an effort straight at Vozinha and Themba Zwane and Makgopa both scuffed shots wide from promising positions at opposite ends.

With Percy Tau better placed to shoot, an off-balance Khuliso Mudau wedged an early effort behind as part of a slick South Africa move he was at the centre of.

Tau was then involved in a flashpoint on the stroke of half-time when he appeared to push Kenny Rocha to the floor, with Congolese referee Jean-Jacques Ndala deciding to take no action against either player.

The incident proved the final act of a first period which was far from a classic, causing some locals in the stands at Yamoussoukro's Charles Konan Banny Stadium to create their own entertainment by audibly celebrating Ivory Coast's last-gasp win over Mali after extra time of Saturday's earlier quarter-final.

Garry Rodrigues, who was Cape Verde's hero with their late winner against Ghana in their opening match of the finals, made his first start at the tournament in place of former Manchester United attacker Bebe, while Rocha replaced Deroy Duarte in midfield for the Blue Sharks.

Joao Paulo Fernandes sent Rodrigues clear inside the penalty area with a perceptive low pass from the flank, only for the winger to send a shot straight into Williams' arms.

Cape Verde had two fine chances in quick succession following the introduction of Bebe for Rodrigues late in the second half, Rocha having a shot blocked after incisive work by the substitute and Jovane Cabral blazing a strike over.

With nerves fraying in the shootout, Mokoena scored for South Africa but Zakhele Lepasa sent his effort high and Aubrey Modiba saw his parried by Vozinha as Hugo Broos' side triumphed 2-1.

Broos has successfully trusted in unchanged starting selections for each of his side's past four matches, and their task could be far trickier against their next opponents, who are in the semi-finals for the 13th time in 15 Afcon appearances and on a run of four successive clean sheets.

South Africa have matched that defensive sequence, doing so for the first time in their 11th appearance at the finals.

And with Williams in this form, it may take something special for Victor Osimhen and his team-mates to find a way past the 1996 champions, who will attempt to bridge a 24-place gap in Fifa's rankings when they meet the three-time winners in Bouake on Wednesday (17:00 GMT).

South Africa celebrate at Afcon 2023 football tournament
South Africa have not conceded since losing their opening match of the tournament 2-0 to Mali