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Thembi hungry for more


There is now a third goal to add to that list. And the fact that is was scored by Thembi Kgatlana makes it even more special

READY FOR ACTION: Thembi Kgatlana and Noko Matlou, Banyana Banyana strikers preparing for tomorrows match against the Netherlands in the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Challenge. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu BackpagePix

Due to the recent passing of Phil Masinga, there has been plenty of renewed focus on that goal scored against the Congo Brazzaville back in 1997 at the FNB Stadium that earned Bafana Bafana their first ever ticket to the Fifa World Cup final.

For many in Mzansi, it remains arguably the most important goal in South African football history – with only possibly Siphiwe Tshabalala’s wonder strike in the 2010 World Cup opener against the Mexicans at the opposite end of the very same stadium rivalling it.

But there is now a third goal to add to that list. And the fact that is was scored by Thembi Kgatlana makes it even more special.

The diminutive Banyana Banyana striker rifled home a volley in the dying minutes of last year’s Awcon tussle against Nigeria that was so good it was deemed Goal of the Year at the recent CAF awards.

The wonder goal was not in isolation though. Kgatlana was sensational throughout Banyana’s run to the Awcon final and was rewarded with the coveted CAF Women’s Player of the Year main prize.

It is on the back of these awards that Kgatlana will enter tomorrow’s Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Challenge friendly against the Netherlands at Cape Town Stadium (kick-off 3pm).

Tightly marked

Therefore it is unlikely that Kgatlana will be able to slip under the radar of the opposition going forward, and will undoubtedly be tightly marked from here-on. It is for this reason that the US-based striker doesn’t want to rest on her laurels and is eager to show Awcon 2018 was not a once-off performance.

In fact, she is determined to raise the bar even further.

“I am still overwhelmed. But I am still the same Thembi, nothing different about me, even though I have been given this title of African Women Player of the Year. I mean it is a privilege. It hasn’t sunk in yet. But I want to keep it simple and stay focused on the World Cup. That’s what I have ahead of me,” she said.

“The African Goal of the Year award is a motivation for me. I will be using it now going forward. I will try to focus on my consistency.

“Often when you feel like you have achieved something, you feel like you have made it. But there is more to achieve. I wake up everyday and tell myself that I have to be better than I was yesterday.”

Kgatlana also paid tribute to the national team’s technical team, headed by coach Desiree Ellis and strength and conditioning coach Riedoh Berdien, for keeping the players in peak condition in order for them to achieve their goals.

“When you join the national team, you have the best technical team, advising you, showing you the right way.

“It is proper recovery and you’re eating well. It helps you grow so much as a player,” said the former University of Western Cape student.