…Nigeria set to tackle hosts Ivory Coast in the grand finale tomorrow at 9pm.
The Bayana Bayana (Boys) of South Africa roundly failed to pass the Victors Examination in a 3rd place match against a toothless Leopards of Democratic Republic of Congo at the Houphouet-Boigny Stadium Abidjan ending regular time goalless but The Boys passed a make-up test in a straight into penalty shootouts without extra time winning 6-5 on penalties.
Mamelodi Sundowns Goalkeeper and Captain of South Africa, Romwen Williams who saved four penalty kicks against Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in the quarterfinals gave the day to his country in the kicks of game of death when he saved Young Boys of Switzerland player, Meschak Elia kick making the entire South Africans to blow air from their cheeks in a THANK GOD WE HAVE THE BRONZE AT LAST manner.
The Leopards of DR Congo should have wrapped up the game within regular time oppressing the South African with long range shots to destabilize the Bafana Bafana Defence but missed over 15 close chances to score from constant indecision leading to poor marksmanship shooting off target or with weak shots that even a 70 year old grandmother can easily pick up.
Both sides made changes to upgrade their plays in the second half but it helped the South Africans better as they were able to block many moves and shots of the Leopards of Congo.
The match was an outright drab as both teams played lower than expectations that if they had played this kind of a game, they would not have gone beyond the group stages.
The South Africans came into the 3rd place game without enough pain killer tablets to take away the loss of the Semifinal to Nigeria that their coach instead of proving the might of the Boys from South Africa who were expected to chain the Leopards of Congo told Journalists that he is busy plotting how to stop Nigeria going into the world.
South Africa has an African zone world cup qualifier match against Nigeria in Abuja on 5th June this year before clashing with Zimbabwe at Jo’Borg on 8th June 2024.
All the matches of the Leopards at Group stages were draws. She played 1-1 with Zambia; another 1-1 with Morocco and Goalless with Tanzania and in the Round of 16 the Leopards consumed the Pharaohs of Egypt via penalty kicks 8-7 after 1-1 at fulltime and in the quarterfinal stopped Guinea 3-1. DR Congo lost to Ivory Coast 0-1 in the semifinal.
South Africa lost to Mali 0-2; bashed Namibia 4-0 and played goalless with Tunisia at group stages of the present tournament; humbled Africa’s number one ranked team, Morocco 2-0 in the Round of 16 and in a high performance penalty shootout ousted the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde 2-1 after the fulltime was goalless in the quarterfinals. She played 1-1 with Nigeria at fulltime but lost on penalty kicks 2-4.
South Africa ranked 66 in the world and 12th in Africa is making her 12th appearance at AFCON. In 1996 South Africa hosted and won 2-0 over Tunisia; she won Silver in 1998 at Burkina Faso losing to Egypt 0-2; South Africa won the Bronze at the Nigeria/Ghana hosting of 2000 beating Tunisia on penalties 4-3 after 2-2 at full time and South Africa hosted in 2013 failing to win a medal.
DR Congo failed to return to victory in semifinal in 50 years since 1974. DRC was in her 6th AFCON semifinal, they won previous two against Ethiopia in 1968 and Egypt in 1974.
There was some drama when Moroccan Ref, Redouane Jiyad protested to CAF that he should be the one to handle the final match between Nigeria and Ivory Coast instead of Mauritanian Ref, Dahanne Beida. Jiyad took next available flight to Morocco and abandoned the 3rd place match. CAF promptly replaced him with Bamlek Tessema Weyessa of Ethiopia. His matter it was learnt has been referred to CAF Disciplinary Committee by CAF Refs Committee.
Tomorrow, Sunday 11th February 2024 the Super Eagles of Nigeria will file out before hosts, Cote D’Ivoire at the Alassane Outtara Stadium, Abidjan at 8pm in the grand finale.
Eniola Olatunji reporting for Patmos Media Line.
#CAF #IvoryCoast2024 #NFF.