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CAN: Ronwen Williams, the South African king of penalties

Four at once, like Helmuth Duckadam.

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CAN: Ronwen Williams, the South African king of penalties

Four at once, like Helmuth Duckadam. The legendary mustachioed Romanian goalkeeper from Steaua Bucharest disgusted FC Barcelona in the final of the 1986 Champion Clubs' Cup (0-0, 2 tab to 0). Ronwen Williams, the goalkeeper of “Bafana-Bafana” (the Boys), burst the screen against the Cape Verde shooters in the quarter-finals (0-0, 2 tab to 1). “If your goalkeeper saves four penalties, it’s no longer luck,” said his coach, Hugo Broos.

It's preparation. “My phone is full of penalty clips,” explains Ronwen Williams, “thanks to the video analysts for this work because it’s not easy to have clips of all these players playing all over the world.” The team's video analysts, led by Sinesipho Mali, "make my job 50% easier because I have an idea of ​​where most of the players are going to shoot," continues the Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper, who plays as a team nationally behind four defenders from his club. The goalkeeper “also thanks the goalkeeping coach”, Grant Johnson, who was seen shouting “Come on!” with clenched fists. on the penalties stopped by his protégé.

Captain since defender Thulani “Tyson” Hlatshwayo was dismissed after Bafana-Bafana missed qualification for the previous CAN by losing in Sudan (2-0), Williams does not forget anyone in his thanks. The man of the match award against Cape Verde “means nothing. What matters to me is how we fought for 120 minutes. I receive it on behalf of the players, the technical staff, all those who are on this adventure with us,” he said. “The video analysts do a fantastic job,” says Hugo Broos, in the race for a second CAN, after winning the 2017 one with Cameroon.

The Belgian could join Frenchman Hervé Renard, crowned with Zambia (2012) and Ivory Coast (2015). The coach also salutes the “very good work of the video analysts. Ronwen had the information, but then he decides in the moment. And he not only succeeded in that, he also saved us two minutes from the end of the match when a player arrived alone,” underlines Broos. Williams then made a miraculous save in injury time, a header that deflected the ball onto his bar. “I'm just happy to have been able to show what I'm worth,” comments the new hero of Bafana-Bafana.

The Sunday Times, South Africa's main daily newspaper, ran headlines with “Ron-win” (a pun on win, “wins”) and “Williams (William) the Conqueror”. His debut in the selection was, however, very difficult, a terrible 5-0 against Brazil in a friendly match in March 2014 (5-0), with a hat-trick from Neymar. He then remained in the shadow of Itumeleng Khune (89 caps) for a long time, before becoming a starter at the turn of 2018 and 2019. Born in Port Elizabeth, which is now called Gqeberha, he reached a new level by joining the biggest club in the country, Mamelodi Sundowns, winners of the brand new Africa Super League.

Ronwen Williams, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on January 21, the day of the victory against Namibia (4-0), had spent twelve seasons at SuperSport United, another club from Pretoria. Previously, he had a brief, inconclusive spell in Tottenham's youth teams. Here he is today, two matches away from joining the legend of André Arendse, the South African goalkeeper who won Africa before Mandela in 1996...

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