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AFCON 2013: Top 5 Performers for Bafana Bafana As They Secure Third Spot, From Williams to Mudau
- South Africa's 2023 Africa Cup of Nations campaign is over
- Bafana Bafana beat DR Congo on penalties to finish third
- Ronwen Williams and a few others were South Africa's top players
South Africa's 2023 Africa Cup of Nations campaign ended with a 3rd place finish.
Bafana Bafana beat the Democratic Republic of Congo on penalties in the third-place playoff to conclude an incredible campaign.
The 1996 champions had several standout performers, including captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who played a vital role in the knockout stages.
After losing their first game against Mali on January 16, they went undefeated for the rest of the tournament. They were eliminated in the semis after losing to Nigeria in the penalty shootout.
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Few expected South Africa to go as far as they went. Ivory Coast legend Yaya Toure tipped them to win the tournament, but they fell short.
Hugo Broos' side played some of the best football, and most of their squad was made up of local-based players. So who were some of their best performers?
Top 5 Bafana Bafana players at 2023 AFCON
South Africa finished on the podium for the first time since 2000. They had several stand-out performers at the tournament.
5. Evidence Makgopa
Despite being just 23, the Orlando Pirates striker led the line well for South Africa. His aerial ability, strength and movement were a problem for many teams. His well-taken goal against Morocco at a crucial period in the game cannot be understated.
Apart from registering a goal and an assist, the towering centre-forward created four chances for his teammates, per Opta Analyst. He'll need to be more clinical in front of goal.
4. Grant Kekana & Mothobi Mvala
South Africa's centre-back pairing stood tall when required. The five clean sheets was thanks to their fearless defending throughout the tournament. Kekana didn't play a single minute in the opening game against Mali after Siyanda Xulu was picked to start.
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They stopped the fearsome Nigeria and Morocco strike trios. Victor Osimhen and Youssef En-Nesyri did not score against the two centre-backs. Barring any injuries, they will be Bafana Bafana's pairing at the 2025 tournament.
3. Khuliso Mudau
The Sundowns right-back will be unlucky not to make the team of the tournament. The 28-year-old played every game and was immense for South Africa. He defended robustly when called upon and created chances for his teammates offensively.
Some have called him the best Africa-based right-back on the continent. It is hard to argue against that.
2. Teboho Mokoena
The Mamelodi Sundown midfielder was the key cog in South Africa's team. He made key passes and stopped dangerous attacks throughout the tournament. His performance against Morocco in the Round of 16 was sensational. His tireless display helped Broos' team eliminate the top ranked side at the tournament.
He capped it off with a spectacular free-kick to seal a 2-0 win against the Atlas Lions. The 27-year-old played every single minute for Bafana Bafana at the tournament. His midfield partner Sphephelo Sithole also deserves special mention.
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1. Ronwen Williams
There are not enough superlatives to describe Williams' performances at the 2023 AFCON. The Mamelodi Sundowns star finished with five clean sheets, one more than Nigeria's Stanley Nwabali, who plays in the final on Sunday, February 11. Therefore, he will win the Golden Glove regardless of what happens in the final. If Nwabali conceded, he will be the outright winner.
Aside from the clean sheets, Williams carried South Africa to the semi-final after saving an astonishing four penalties in the shootout against Cape Verde, per BBC. His penalty save against DR Congo on Saturday saw South Africa take the bronze.
Williams vs Nwabali
Sports Brief earlier reported on the 2023 AFCON Golden Glove race between Williams and Nwabali. The Nigerian will have to keep a clean sheet against Ivory Coast to win the Golden Glove.
Williams became the first goalkeeper to save four penalties in a single game. Meanwhile, Nwabali unseated Francis Uzoho from the No. 1 spot and has been incredible.