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South Africa Keeper Credits Backroom Staff For His Record Performance In Africa Cup Penalty Shootout –

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South Africa Keeper Credits Backroom Staff For His Record Performance In Africa Cup Penalty Shootout -

South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams says preparation was key to his saving four of the five penalties he faced in a shootout to help the Bafana Bafana reach the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals.

Williams’ saves against Cape Verde in their quarterfinal match on Saturday were unprecedented – no other goalkeeper had saved so many in this part of a penalty shootout at the Africa Cup before.

The South Africa captain praised the team’s analysts after his man-of-the-match performance, which had included a late save against Gilson Benchimol to keep his team in the game.

Williams then saved Cape Verde’s first three penalties from Cape Verde’s Bebé, Willy Semedo and Laros Duarte, before following up on the fifth to deny Patrick Andrade. That sent South Africa to the semifinals with a 2-1 win on penalties. The match in Yamoussoukro had ended scoreless after extra time.

“It’s not me,” Williams said. “I give credit to the analysts and the goalkeeper coach as well. They sent me so many clips, you know, and my phone is full of penalty clips … They made my job 50% easier because I had an idea where most of the players were going.”

The Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper also paid tribute to his own teammates for getting to the shootout after extra time.

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“The desire we had as a team tonight to fight for 120-plus minutes – that’s what matters to me. You know, to see the brotherhood out there, to fight, to keep going, that matters to me, that’s what’s more important,” Williams said of his man-of-the-match award. “So I will receive this trophy on behalf of all the players, the technical team, the staff, everyone that’s been on this journey with us.”

South Africa coach Hugo Broos also credited the team’s preparations.

“It’s not lucky, because we have a very good camp today. If you can (save) four penalties, this is not luck any more. You can take one, but four – this is not luck any more,” Broos said. “And he (Williams) did not only that. He saved us two minutes before the end with the player alone in front of him. So yes, he was man of the match.”

South Africa, which is bidding for its second title after winning in 1996, next faces three-time champion Nigeria in Bouaké in Wednesday’s semifinals. The winner will face either host nation Cote d’Ivoire or Congo in the final in Abidjan on Sunday.

-AP

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Liberia, Eswatini hold upper hand in AFCON 2025 preliminary qualifiers –

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Liberia, Eswatini Hold Upper Hand In AFCON 2025 Preliminary Qualifiers -

After commanding victories in the first leg matches of the Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, qualifiers, Chad, Liberia, and Eswatini find themselves in advantageous positions as they gear up for the return fixtures scheduled for Tuesday.

As the second leg of the preliminary fixtures approach, all eyes will be on these teams as they vie for their coveted spots in the group phase of the qualifiers, with the hopes of making their mark on the continental stage.

Chad emerged victorious with a narrow 1-0 win over Mauritius, joining Liberia and Eswatini in the lead after their impressive triumphs earlier last week.

Liberia secured a 2-0 victory against Djibouti, while Eswatini displayed their dominance with a 3-0 win over Somalia.

The second leg promises to be fiercely contested, particularly for Chad, who will face a challenging encounter against Mauritius on the latter’s home turf.

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Coach Kevin Nicaise’s players are keen to defend their slender lead and secure their spot in the next phase of the qualifiers but the trainer admits they have an arduous task.

“We are far from perfect, far from being a top team in the world. We are in the construction phase. There are still things to work on and improve,” coach Nicaise said after their first-leg win.

“It is not overnight that we will be a top team in the world, we are aware of that, however we are working hard with the group and the staff to achieve this goal.”

Meanwhile, Liberia will host Djibouti, aiming to build on their first-leg success and seal their progression to the next round.

Eswatini will host Somalia with confidence, seeking to maintain their winning momentum and secure passage to the next stage of the tournament.

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South Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe will also face off in what is expected to be a closely contested encounter, following their goalless draw in the first leg.

With both teams eager for victory, the match promises to be a thrilling battle for supremacy.

-CAF

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Liberia and Eswatini took commanding leads in their respective Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, preliminary round ties after claiming impressive away victories on Wednesday.

Liberia captain Murphy Dorley scored one of two first-half goals as the Lone Stars defeated hosts Djibouti 2-0 in the opening leg in  Marrakech.

Mohammed Sangare broke the deadlock from the penalty spot on 23 minutes before Dorley coolly slotted home Sebastian Teclar’s cross 12 minutes later.

Djibouti struggled to lay a glove on their more illustrious opponents as the Lone Star side kept them at bay to take two away goals into next week’s second leg in Monrovia.

Eswatini were also celebrating after demolishing Somalia 3-0 in the Moroccoan  city of El Jadida to put one foot in the group stage qualifiers.

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Striker Sabelo Ndzinisa was the hero, netting twice either side of Felicio Figuareido’s 40th minute opener for the visitors.

Somalia now face an uphill battle to qualify when they travel to the Mbombela Stadium in the South African city of Nelspruit for the return on March 26th.

The opening leg victories give Liberia and Eswatini a huge advantage heading into the second legs as they target a place in the group stage on the road to next year’s finals in Morocco.

Back from the locker room, Somalia still couldn’t play its game.

Worse, Eswatini widened the gap with Ginindza who scored his double of the evening in the 56th minute. 3-0, the score remained unchanged on the scoreboard until the final whistle.

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Victory for Eswatini which will still have to perform in the return leg to ensure its qualification for the qualifiers.

 

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Road to Morocco 2025 begins today

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Following last month’s grand closing to the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations held in Cote d’Ivoire where the hosts were crowned champions for the third time, Africa’s biggest competition is now shifting its focus to the 35th edition set to be held in Morocco next year.

A total of 52 Nations will be engaged to compete for a place in the 24-nation competition.

To mark the start of the qualifiers following the draw that was held in Cairo on 20 February 2024, eight lowest ranked nations will compete in the Preliminary Qualifiers starting on Wednesday, 20 March over a two-legged format that will decide the four nations that will join the other 44 African nations to make up the group stages of the qualifiers.

The CAF AFCON Morocco 2025 journey officially gets underway on Wednesday, 20 March with two fixtures as Somalia plays host to Eswatini, while Djibouti faces Liberia.

Two days later, Chad locks horns with Mauritius before Sao Tome and Principe takes on South Sudan.

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The return legs will conclude on Tuesday, 26 March with all matches set to take place on the day to officially decide the preliminary phase of the competition.

 

 AFCON Morocco 2025 Preliminary Qualifiers:

First Leg Fixtures:

Wednesday, 20 March 

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  • 18:00 GMT | Somalia – Eswatini
  • 22:00 GMT | Djibouti – Liberia

 

Friday, 22 March

  • 18:00 GMT | Chad – Mauritius
  • 19:00 GMT | Sao Tome and Principe – South Sudan

 

Return Leg Fixtures:

Tuesday, 26 March

  • 13:00 GMT | Eswatini – Somalia
  • 16:00 GMT | Liberia – Djibouti
  • 17:00 GMT | South Sudan – Sao Tome and Principe
  • 15:00 GMT | Mauritius – Chad
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