Ronwen Williams set for more silverware after Bafana returns from Afcon mission

South Africa's goalkeeper Ronwen Williams celebrates after winning at the end of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 quarter-final football match between Cape Verde and South Africa at the Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro

Ronwen Williams (pictured) is the first Bafana goalkeeper to keep five clean sheets at a single Afcon tournament, eclipsing Andre Arendse’s four in the 1996 edition. Picture: Franck Fife/AFP

Published Feb 13, 2024


The South African national team rounded off a successful Africa Cup of Nations tournament in classy fashion, with a couple of awards.

Bafana Bafana captain Ronwen Williams was unsurprisingly named the Goalkeeper of the Tournament after a string of spectacular performances in Ivory Coast.

The 31-year-old shot-stopper helped his team to a first third-place finish since 2000 and in the process set an Afcon record of four penalty saves in the quarter-final shoot-out against Cape Verde.

After a worrisome 2-0 defeat against Mali in Bafana’s opening match, he went on to keep five clean sheets in the tournament. These came in the 4-0 group stage win against Namibia, 0-0 draw against Tunisia and 2-0 last16 win against Morocco.

Williams shines again

After Bafana were bundled out of the running for gold, Williams then went on to ensure that their third-place play-off result against the Democratic Republic of Congo ended goalless.

He bowed out in typical Williams style as he made two saves in the penalty shoot-out in the bronze medal match.

The Mamelodi Sundowns man is the first Bafana goal-minder to keep five clean sheets at a single Afcon tournament, eclipsing Andre Arendse’s four in the 1996 edition.

Even with such remarkable showings, Williams had to ward off stiff competition for the award with Nigeria’s Stanley Nwabali in contention ahead of their final showdown against Ivory Coast.

However, the Chippa United man conceded two goals as the Super Eagles were beaten to the title by the Elephants, which meant Williams finished with one more clean sheet than Nwabali, hence clinching the award.

Having made an excellent start to 2024, Williams will want to build on his fine form when he returns to his club Mamelodi Sundowns.

Williams has already helped the Brazilians lift the Inaugural African Football League (AFL) title late last year and remains in the hunt for a CAF Champions League trophy that has evaded Sundowns since 2016.

He has kept four clean sheets in the five games he’s started in the tournament and has an opportunity to lift another continental trophy at the end of the season.

More trophies lined up

With the DStv Premiership seemingly heading for Chloorkop for a seventh year in a row, Williams might round off the season with four trophies to his name with the Nedbank Cup set to be played as well.

Nigeria centre back and captain William Troost-Ekong was named Player of the Tournament after helping his team keep four clean sheets while also scoring two penalties himself. Equatorial Guinea and Inter City man Emilio Nsue Lopez, with five goals, walked away as the top scorer.

Williams’ Bafana were not only crowned as the third-best team on the continent but were also handed the Fair Play award.

Despite Grant Kekana’s red card in the semi-finals against Nigeria, Bafana collected just six yellow cards throughout their tournament and were therefore rewarded for their sportsmanship.

Bafana’s 2023 Afcon was a ‘coming-of-age’ tournament for a lot of players, including late bloomers such as Williams, vice-captain Siyanda Xulu and Thabang Monare.

While Hugo Broos has elected to avoid discussing individuals, he could not avoid it in this tournament with a lot of players picking their hands up at the right time.

The 71-year-old has formed a sustainable core to his side as he looks to ensure Bafana’s return to the World Cup stage after returning to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bafana will reboot their operations again after a month when they prepare for their friendly internationals against Andorra and Algeria.


IOL Sport