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HomeBafana BafanaI Knew Williams Would Be Special Player - Igesund

I Knew Williams Would Be Special Player – Igesund

Former Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says he is not surprised to see Ronwen Williams being on top of the world following his heroics in the Africa Cup of Nations, calling him a wonderful human being and deserving everything coming his way.  

Igesund handed Williams his debut with Bafana in March 2014 against a rampant Brazilian side that battered Bafana 5-0 at FNB Stadium.  

Former FC Barcelona and Paris Saint German star Neymar scored a hat-trick on that day. 

But nearly 10 years later, Williams was the toast of Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations’ journey to claim the third spot, saving four penalties as Bafana dumped Cape Verde out in the quarter-finals, repeating his heroics in the third/fourth playoff, saving two penalties to beat DR Congo.  

At the end of the tournament in Ivory Coast on Sunday that was won by the host nation, Williams was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament, having kept five clean sheets, while Bafana were named Fair Play Team of the Tournament.

“It was tough outing for him because, if my memory serves me, Neymar scored a hat-trick on that day,” recalled Igesund to iDiski Times when discussing handing Williams his Bafana debut. 

“It was a good baptism of fire. I spoke to him after the game like I did to the other guys, I said ‘Listen, you did well even though we conceded five goals, we played against a rampant side without our full side involved’. 

“You look at the line-up on that day, there were many players who got their debuts, so that’s how it was. So, I’m so proud of him because we have come a long way and, at that time, the reason why he was selected, he was doing well for his club. I always knew that he was going to be a special player because of his attitude.  

“He knew he had to work hard. He was a young boy, got the opportunity and I’m grateful for that. Sometimes you suffer defeats, you must lose games for you to grow.  

“Sometimes losing is important no matter what and I think Ronwen has responded very well. After that game, I continued to use him in certain other games and he certainly overcame it and believed in himself, I believed in him, and he has grown.”  

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Igesund also worked with Williams at club level – SuperSport United after he was sacked by the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) in the same year. He won the Telkom Knockout in 2014/15 season when they beat Platinum Stars. In that highly entertaining game at Orlando Stadium, Williams saved a penalty of Eleazar Rodgers during the game before Thuso Phala scored a blinder to win the match. 

“I had him at SuperSport, he has been a wonderful individual,” added Igesund, who led Bafana to a Round of 16 exit at the 2013 AFCON where they lost to Mali at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. 

“He deserves everything that he is getting now because he worked very hard, took this opportunity to be on the big stage where he is right now at Mamelodi Sundowns, and he is performing at the level I knew that he would perform.

“I’m happy for him and happy for Bafana.”  

It is why Broos, when he assumed the Bafana Bafana job in May 2021, didn’t hesitate to name Williams as his captain.

Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala is iDiski Times' former KwaZulu-Natal-based web journalist. Boasting extensive experience in the South African football landscape, Robin-Duke has previously worked for Kick-Off Magazine, Soccer Laduma, and Daily Sun and Sunday Sun. He specialises in breaking news and transfers around South Africa’s big clubs in KZN. Robin-Duke has left iDiski Times.
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