2023 AFCON Best goalkeeper Ronwen Williams reflects on failed penalty-save plans vs Nigeria

South African goalkeeper Ronwen Williams has shed light on his challenges in saving penalties during his team’s AFCON 2023 semifinal encounter against Nigeria.

Despite emerging as the hero in South Africa’s shootout victory against Cape Verde in the quarterfinals, the 32-year-old shot-stopper faced difficulties in thwarting Nigeria’s spot kicks.

Williams, who had previously demonstrated his penalty-saving prowess, found himself unable to replicate his success against the Super Eagles.

Reflecting on his performance, Williams disclosed his strategy of attempting to unsettle Nigeria’s penalty takers but acknowledged that his plan did not yield the desired results.

“Obviously, it is either you are going one of three sides, it’s either down the middle or left or right. Now they don’t want us to talk to the players anymore,” Williams explained. “I tried to push the limits, by going up to them to tell them where they are going so that at least I have cut out one side.”

Despite his efforts to gain a psychological advantage, Williams noted that Nigeria’s penalty takers adapted to his tactics, posing a new challenge for him to overcome. “They started studying me as well; you know, four out of five penalties went down the middle, so now I need to come up with better ideas,” he remarked.

Ultimately, South Africa secured a third-place finish in the tournament by defeating DR Congo on penalties in the third-place match with the goalkeeper the hero with two penalty saves.

Ronwen Williams was named goalkeeper of the tournament, beating Nigeria’s Stanley Nwabali to the award.


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