(Published - 19 November 2018)
Former UWC Ladies Football Club sensation and Banyana Banyana forward Thembi Kgatlana came off the bench to score a stunning goal that gave the national senior women’s team a 1-0 win over Nigeria in the 2018 Women’s African Cup of Nations yesterday.
Kgatlana, now with Houston Dash Football Club in the United States, received a long, brilliant pass from another former UWC Ladies FC star, Jermaine Seoposenwe, in the 85th minute and she wasted no time hitting it hard pass the Super Falcons keeper from a tight angle. For her exploits in the game, she was voted as the Woman of the Match.
“Jermaine told me today that I would score,” Kgatlana told the South African Football Association Media after the game. “Before she passed that ball to me we made eye contact and noticed that the Nigerian defence had given me enough space to run into. I utilised that space and had one thing on my mind (when I received the ball). Hit it at once and see what happens. And a goal happened.”
Kgatlana, who was shortlisted with two other footballers for last year’s Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women’s Player of the Year Award, revealed that she had not imagined she would score a match winner, but had thought that she would make a difference when she ran onto the field. “That goal will always stay in my heart and will be the highlight of my career because I’m the second South African (after Janine van Wyk) to score a match winner against Nigeria.”
The Johannesburg-born Kgatlana noted that she doesn’t mind starting games on the bench, or playing full matches. “It doesn’t matter whether I play 10 minutes or 90 minutes. I’m there to do a job and my job as a striker is to score goals.”
According to Kgatlana, the win over the defending champions is a confidence-booster for Banyana Banyana going into the next group match against Equatorial Guinea on 21 November. “Nigeria has had an upper hand over South Africa, in both men’s and women’s teams. But our aim here is not to seek revenge, but to fight together as a team and eventually qualify for the World Cup.”
Kgatlana is one of the five current and former UWC footballers in the Banyana Banyana squad for the 2018 Women’s African Cup of Nations, which is underway in Ghana until 1 December. Others include current UWC goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, Seoposenwe who plays for JVW FC in Johannesburg, and Leandra Smeda, who is the books of Gintra University in Lithuania. Additionally, former UWC midfielder Rachel Sebati, who is with Tshwane University of Technology, is a travelling standby player in the team.