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HomeSouth African SoccerWilliams' journey from a debut drubbing to Bafana number one

Williams’ journey from a debut drubbing to Bafana number one

Ronwen Williams is line to make his 33rd appearance for Bafana Bafana against Morocco. The star-studded North Africans arrived in South Africa on Thursday for the final match of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

The Bafana captain’s route to becoming the country’s number one in between the sticks wasn’t an easy one. His international career got off to the worst possible start against Brazil in 2014. A Neymar hat-trick saw the Samba Boys dance their way to an emphatic 5-0 victory over Bafana in what was Williams’ debut for the national team aged 22.

The 31-year-old will lead Bafana against the Atlas Lions of Morocco at the scene of the crime 9 years later. However, Williams has matured into a great shot stopper over the years and led his troops to secure qualification to next year’s AFCON that will be held in the Ivory Coast.

“You need perseverance and you can’t give up. You need to have a strong mentality,” Williams said.

“I didn’t have the perfect start. I conceded five (goals) against Brazil. I obviously got hammered for years after that and it was something that was stuck there in my head because people kept on reminding me about it.

“I couldn’t let it out of my mind and play freely, so you need to be strong mentally and you only get a stronger mentality with experience, good or bad. Lots of lessons (were learned) but the main thing is perseverance.”

A Sundowns leap of faith

Williams, formerly with SuperSport United, made the leap of faith last year to sign for Mamelodi Sundowns. He dislodged the dependable Denis Onyango to become the new number one at Chloorkop. The newly-crowned 2022-2023 DStv Premiership Goalkeeper of the Season says he never doubted himself, even when his ability to perform at the highest level was questioned.

“It motivated me. I knew I had the ability and the talent,” he said.

“I didn’t want to give up on myself and I knew as time went by, I would obviously get better as a goalkeeper and that is exactly what happened because I started winning cups with SuperSport United and that experience helped.

“Being in the national team for so many years and playing on the continent helped too. As time went by I felt comfortable in the national team and the last few years were much better for me. Especially when you’re playing, that’s how you learn. You don’t learn as a goalkeeper by sitting on the bench or being in the stands. I had to learn the hard way and that was through my mistakes and the defeats. All the disappointments motivated me to keep going.”

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