(Published - 10 June 2019)
UWC alumna and reigning African Women Footballer of the Year, Thembi Kgatlana, has written her name into the history books once again, having scored South Africa’s first goal in a FIFA Women's World Cup.
Kgatlana - who also won the 2018 African Best Goal accolade at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards early in the year - scored a stunning goal as Banyana Banyana went down 1-3 to 13th-ranked Spain in their opening game of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France yesterday. It is South Africa’s first time in the tournament, making Kgatlana the first ever scorer from the rainbow nation.
The Beijing BG Phoenix FC striker also scored against Nigeria in their first game of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations late last year, and said she is overwhelmed by the goal and her performance in general. “Everytime I step onto the field God uses me to show off,” she commented from the Banyana camp today.
“The goal is playing in my head like a scratched video, over and over again - I can’t get over it. To score such a beautiful goal at the World Cup is a dream. And I’m living that dream.”
UWC Director of Sport, Mandla Gagayi, also congratulated Kgatlana: “While the goal was a result of a team effort, I believe it will be a goal that will finally cement Thembi's name in our country's history books. Given her consistency and commitment since the qualifiers, it comes as no surprise that she is now the first South African woman to score at a FIFA World Cup.”
Banyana coach Desriee Ellis also praised Kgatlana and was quoted by the South African Football Association as saying: “Thembi is a special player - you know to expect magical play from her. It is a similar fantastic goal that she scored against Nigeria in the women’s championships. If anyone was going to score a goal today, it was going to be Thembi.
“She has come here and set herself some
objectives; she could have had a second or third, but that is how the game goes. She has unbelievable talent and belief in her ability. When she is on the ball, you know something is coming, and sometimes you can’t stop it,” she added.
Banyana will try to redeem themselves when they take on China - ironically, where Kgatlana is plying her trade - in their second match of the tournament on Thursday.