Thembi Kgatlana has missed her Banyana Banyana teammates. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Thembi Kgatlana has missed her Banyana Banyana teammates. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Thembi Kgatlana happy to be back home with Banyana

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Apr 8, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana ace Thembi Kgatlana is relishing the opportunity of being back in the national team structures and working with youngsters after an impressive stint with Spanish Primera Division side SD Eibar.

Kgatlana has enjoyed unprecedented success at Eibar, a side she joined in June last year from Portuguese outfit Benfica FC.

In 20 appearances for the club in all competitions, the 24-year-old striker has notched 10 goals.

Kgatlana's contribution has put Eibar 12th on the standings with 26 points, nine ahead of the bottom-placed Deportivo and 30 behind leaders FC Barcelona.

Nonetheless, with the league on pause due to the Fifa break, Kgatlana says she's happy to be back at home.

“I think for me it's about physicality,” said Kgatlana about what she's learnt from her club experiences in China, Portugal and Spain.

“I get to wake up every day and do what I love. I get to train with the team and be fit for matches.”

She added: “It's good to be back in the national team, so that I can add a little bit of experience from some of the things that I've learnt over the years from different countries.

“It's good to be back home and see different faces and what the future of Banyana has.”

The South Africans are in camp at Safa's technical centre, preparing for two international friendlies against Zambia and Botswana on Saturday and Tuesday. Both matches will be held at the Bidvest Stadium in Milpark, Braamfontein.

Kgatlana, Noko Matlou and Amanda Mthandi, who are all based in Spain, are the only three overseas-based players in the squad, with the rest of the players being locally based.

Most of the local players played in Banyana's Cosafa Championship triumph in 2019.

The Championship was the last tournament that the national team played in, before all sport was suspended for some time last year due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus which continues to destabilise the world even today.

“It's been a long time without us being together.

“The girls played Cosafa (in 2019) and they won it.

“It was exciting to see the dominance of Banyana in Southern Africa with all the new players and without the senior players,” Kgatlana said.

“I think we are on the right track. Based on the circumstances of Covid19, some of the senior girls are at home, trying to keep fit and making sure that when we come back together, we are strong and not starting from zero or finding excuses that we haven't been together

“We have a lot to prepare for,” Kgatlana said.

“We have a possible Cosafa tournament that we need to play. We have the Awcon (Africa Women Cup of Nations) qualifiers.

“It's important that we get there because we don't want to miss a ticket to the extended World Cup (jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023).

“We don't take that lightly.”

@Mihlalibaleka

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