South Africa player ratings vs Nigeria – Williams impresses again despite Super Eagles defeat

South Africa’s hopes of winning a second Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) title were dashed after they lost to Nigeria in the semi-finals.

Bafana Bafana put up a resilient fight against the West Africans, who were the favourites going into Wednesday’s game, but were ultimately undone on penalties.

William Troost-Ekong gave Nigeria the lead in the second half via a well-taken penalty after Victor Osimhen had been fouled in the box.

However, South Africa rallied their way back and restored parity late in the game, also through a penalty that was converted by Teboho Mokoena.

Ronwen Williams impressed again against Nigeria
Photo by Icon Sport

Both teams could not be separated after extra time, leading to a penalty shootout where South Africa missed two of their kicks.

On that note, here are Afrik-Foot’s ratings for the Bafana Bafana players in the semi-finals:

 South Africa player ratings vs Nigeria

Goalkeeper and Defence

Ronwen Williams – 7

He was once again composed and made several saves, including a one-on-one with Samuel Chukwueze to keep South Africa in the game for as long as possible.

He may not have saved any of the penalties in the shootout this time, unlike in the quarter-final victory against Cape Verde, but he still stood out.

Khuliso Johnson Mudau – 5

Madau had a decent game at right-back. He was solid defensively but left a feeling that he could’ve offered more in attack after choosing not to take any risks.

Grant Kekana – 6 

Didn’t do much wrong and appeared to enjoy the physical tussle with Osimhen, Ademola Lookman and Moses Simon.

He was also a towering presence at the back, helping to deal with all the crosses that Nigeria’s attack sent into the box.

Mothobi Mvala – 6 

Like Kekana, Mvala also put up a brave performance at the back and was one of the reasons why South Africa only conceded one goal.

Aubrey Modiba – 5 

Wasn’t adventurous enough and was late with his tackle on Osimhen, which led to Nigeria’s opening goal. But he recovered as the game wore on and brought some stability to the back.

Midfield 

Sphephelo Sithole – 6

He was a workaholic in the middle of the park and occasionally veered forward to help create something in the attacking third. He could’ve been on the score sheet with a little bit of composure.

Siyanda Xulu – 5

Xulu endured a poor game in midfield and appeared to struggle with the physicality of Nigeria’s duo of Alex Iwobi and Frank Onyeka, resulting in several breakaway attacks for the Super Eagles.

Teboho Mokoena – 7

Teboho Mokoena scored a penalty and missed in the shootout against Nigeria
Photo by Icon Sport

Mokoena was one of South Africa’s better players against Nigeria. He was daring as ever, tried a couple of long-range shots and nearly created the winner late in the game after scoring the equaliser from the penalty.

Although he missed his kick in the shootout, he was imperious for 120 minutes.

Attack

Percy Tau – 4

Was not himself and lost the ball easily on so many occasions. This meant Bafana Bafana couldn’t capitalise on the counter-attacking opportunities that came their way.

Evidence Makgopa – 6.5 

Makgopa was South Africa’s livewire in attack against Nigeria. He battled the Super Eagles’ defence and never stopped trying. He was unfortunate not to have scored in the second after going agonizingly close.

Themba Zwane – 5 

Zwane had one of his poorest games in a South Africa shirt and was hooked off after 75 minutes, as he proved ineffective in attack.

Subs and Manager

Mihlali Mayambela – 5 

Mayambela came on for Xulu with 15 minutes left and gave off his best, but it was at a time when Nigeria were on the ascendency, so he didn’t really change much.

Zakhele Lepasa – 5

Lepasa also replaced Zwane and was expected to inject some attacking impetus but was pocketed by Troost-Ekong and the Nigerian defense.

Nkosinathi Sibisi – N/A

Sibisi came in extra time with just three minutes left and did not really have any influence.

Hugo Broos – 7

Was very good with his starting line-up and tactics, but the team generally lacked quality. Still, he set up the team to neutralise Nigeria’s attack and nearly got away with it, only to be undone by the penalty shootout. 

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Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an African sports writer, with bylines on DW, Al Jazeera, World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.