Thembi Kgatlana in action during the 2019 Cyprus Cup match between Finland and South Africa in March. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

DURBAN – Reigning CAF Women’s African Footballer of the Year, Thembi Kgatlana, doesn’t want to promise too much ahead of the much-anticipated World Cup in France.

The showpiece will kick-off on June 7 and end a month later, on July 7. Banyana Banyana, the women’s senior national team who are competing in their maiden World Cup, are in a difficult group with Germany, Spain and China.

Kgatalane had a memorable 2018 having walked away with the Golden Boot and the Player of the Tournament gongs at the African Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana following sparkling displays.

“Football changes, so I can’t promise I will do what I did last year. We will see when we get to the World Cup,” Kgatlana replied when asked if she could replicate the brilliance of the previous year.

However, despite all the accolades and achievements, she hasn’t been overwhelmed by success: “I haven’t changed - I’m still the same. The only thing that changes is the status,” she said.

Banyana are going through a barren run of results. They haven’t won a match since beating Mali in the semi-finals of the Afcon in Ghana last year, but Kgatlana is not fazed.

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“It is not a worry because in football you win some and lose some. You have to learn from most of the games. For us it is all about preparations for the World Cup.

“During preparations you will face challenges. The coaches are working on the few things, like the formation. In most cases, you don’t play your best team.

“Yes, it is a challenge that we haven’t won any game since Mali, but it is a good thing because we get to learn from our mistakes. There’s still time, but we can’t relax, “ Kgatlana said.

Thembi Kgatlana scored the equaliser for Banyana Banyana against Finland. Photo: @Banyana_Banyana via Twitter
Thembi Kgatlana scored the equaliser for Banyana Banyana against Finland. Photo: @Banyana_Banyana via Twitter

Banyana will face Jamaica in a friendly match at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at 3pm on Sunday. It is their last game in front of home supporters before the World Cup.

“We have to face Jamaica and get a result and then we can shift focus to USA,” Kgatlana said.

The Banyana star is relishing playing at the World Cup stadium.

“That’s what we need. Some of us, have played at the Olympic Games. We’ve played to a full stadium with 90 000 people in it against Brazil. Some of the young players need to get used to playing at big stadiums.” Kgatlana said.

@Minenhlecr7


The Mercury

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