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.
This shootout success should be only the start for Bafana Bafana’s talents. With bronze claimed, South Africa can look to build a legacy after progress in Cote d’Ivoire.