South Africa claimed the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations third place play-off on Saturday, beating DR Congo 6-5 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes.
It hands Bafana Bafana only their second ever AFCON bronze medal and first since 2000. South Africa triumphed after a dramatic shootout in Abidjan.
Both sides rang the changes following exhausting semi-final defeats. The first half proved cagey with clear chances lacking for either team.
DR Congo looked livelier after the break as Simon Banza and Grady Diangana threatened. But wayward finishing cost them dearly.
Bafana Bafana also struggled to create openings until the latter stages. Substitute Mihlali Mayambela almost won it late on but fired over.
With penalties looming, South Africa held their nerve. After 11 perfect spot-kicks, DR Congo’s Chancel Mbemba crucially missed to hand Bafana Bafana bronze.
The shootout relief capped South Africa’s AFCON recovery after a poor start. Coach Hugo Broos has moulded an exciting young team brimming with potential.
DR Congo will rue missed opportunities but can also reflect proudly on reaching the last four.
Their squad boasts even brighter things ahead.
Ultimately, South Africa triumphed to seize a rare moment of AFCON glory. Their first medal since 2000 represents a major milestone for Broos’ youthful side.
South Africa finished on the podium of an Africa Cup of Nations for the fourth time in their history, after 1996 (champion), 1998 (finalist) and 2000 (third). Bafana Bafana have conceded just three goals in seven games at this 2023 AFCON, having conceded fewer goals in a single edition only in their first appearance in 1996 (2 in 6 matches).
This is the second time that DR Congo have finished fourth in an Africa Cup of Nations, after 1972. The Leopards finished third in their last two appearances at this stage of the competition, winning on penalty shoot-outs in 1998 and 2015.
South Africa is the first nation to play three consecutive penalty shoot-outs in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations. Bafana Bafana have won three of their five penalty shoot-outs at the AFCON, including two in the third place game (v Tunisia in 2000 and v DR Congo today).
South Africa have completed 87.6% of their passes against DR Congo, their highest percentage in an Africa Cup of Nations game since 2010.
Simon Banza, of DR Congo, have recorded 12 touches in South Africa’s box, with only Mostafa Mohamed having a higher tally in a single game during this edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (15 v Cabo Verde in the group stage).