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Afcon 2023: South Africa keeper Ronwen Williams 'should be minister to save economy'

Ronwen Williams makes a save for South Africa at Afcon 2023
Ronwen Williams' penalty heroics came after he had made a superb save as normal time was about to end against Cape Verde

South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams should be made his country's finance minister to 'save the economy' after his player of the match performance against Cape Verde, his team-mate Grant Kekana joked.

The Bafana Bafana captain saved four penalties in a remarkable performance that earned him the player of the match award after their their quarter-final shootout in Yamoussoukro.

Williams, 32, also denied Gilson Benchimol with an incredible reaction save to push the Blue Sharks forward's effort on to the bar after he was put through with a chance win the match in injury time at the end of 90 minutes.

"He is a world-class goalkeeper," South Africa defender Grant Kekana said.

"I think he should be made the minister of finance - he can save South Africa's economy."

Williams reserved praise for the team's analysts, who he said have "filled his phone" with clips of penalties taken by Cape Verde.

The stopper, who won the inaugural African Football League with Mamelodi Sundowns last season, says he had a "good idea" where the penalties would be going thanks to the work of the team behind the scenes and his highlight was the save to deny Benchimol rather than the shootout.

"There weren't too many clear-cut chances and that was one where that got in behind the defence and there was only a few minutes to go," Williams said.

"So for me that save stands out more than anything else. I'm just proud I could keep my team in the game because they don't give me so much work to do."

Bafana Bafana have not conceded a goal at the tournament since their opening match, when they lost 2-0 to Mali.

Kekana, who plays alongside Williams for Sundowns, was overlooked for that game but has been an ever present since in the heart of the defence to coincide with the series of clean sheets.

"We understand that, if we don't concede you don't lose games," he said. "So we try so hard to work as a team. We start defending from the front to give us the chance of winning the game."

Nigeria next for South Africa

South Africa, 66th in the Fifa rankings, were not among the fancied teams for the tournament but now come up against Nigeria, the favourites to lift the trophy in Abidjan on Sunday.

"It's another tough opponent. Nigeria has a lot of quality players but we believe in ourselves," Kekana added.

"We're gonna go to the drawing board, plan accordingly, and give ourselves a chance of getting a positive result against them."

The last-four appearance is South Africa's first since 2000, four years after their sole Afcon title.

Bafana Bafana have already overcome the pre-tournament favourites, Morocco, in the knockout stage.

Their coach Hugo Broos, who led Cameroon to the 2017 Afcon title, is far from surprised by the progress and the manner of it on Saturday.

"Sometimes we do a little game after training taking penalties and the players never miss but you see what happened," he said.

"We are not lucky because we had a very good keeper. He saved us two minutes before the end as well with a player alone in front of him.

"We played our worst game of the tournament. We played well [in defeat] against Mali, for some players it's a new experience and that may be the nerves.

"There was nothing to lose for Cape Verde but for us there was everything to lose. Let's say six hours ago I was 71, now I am 75. It was a very stressful game, certainly with penalties.

"There were many people in South Africa that didn't believe in the team but we did and this is a great thing for South African football. I hope those that saw the games are now convinced."

Cape Verde dream of World Cup after Afcon heartbreak

Cape Verde midfielder Ryan Mendes says the next target for the country is qualification for the World Cup.

The 34-year-old Fatih Karagumruk midfielder, who previously had spells with Nottingham Forest and Lille, believes the achievement at the tournament by the Blue Sharks will boost those hopes.

"I will try to help my country to go to World Cup," Mendes told BBC Sport Africa.

"For our country, all the people - even my son who's aged three years - it's the dream for my son. We will try to give everything

"We showed all the people we can play very good football. But tonight was very bad for us because we wanted to continue in this tournament."