Thembi Kgatlana takes it all in after scoring a dramatic winner for Banyana Banyana against Nigeria on Sunday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Thembi Kgatlana takes it all in after scoring a dramatic winner for Banyana Banyana against Nigeria on Sunday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Thembi Kgatlana (No 11) enjoys the moment after scoring the winner against Nigeria. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Thembi Kgatlana (No 11) enjoys the moment after scoring the winner against Nigeria. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis (left, grey shirt) shows her elation after the goal by Thembi Kgatlana against Nigeria. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis (left, grey shirt) shows her elation after the goal by Thembi Kgatlana against Nigeria. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana had gone toe-to-toe with the giants of Africa, Nigeria, for 84 minutes in their African Women’s Cup of Nations opener in Cape Coast, Ghana on Sunday.

Both teams had their chances to score, but it looked like they would have to be satisfied with a point each.

Enter Thembi Kgatlana... The hard-running striker was not giving up on the dream of beating defending champions Nigeria just yet.

Banyana had been victorious over the West African powerhouses just once before, and it would take something special to knock them over.

And what an unbelievable effort it was from Kgatlana, who came on as a 57th-minute substitute for Busisiwe Ndimeni.

The energetic Jermaine Seoposenwe had pounced on a loose ball just inside the opposition’s half and looked for an opening in the Nigerian defence.

She looked up, and delivered an inch-perfect chip that bounced right into a flying Kgatlana’s path on the right-hand side of the Nigerian box.

Now often South African footballers are guilty of taking one too many touches, or not shooting sooner. But Kgatlana wasn’t going to hold back.

Having made a superb run to brush off the defender, Kgatlana let rip immediately with a thunderous volley from a difficult angle, and the ball curled away from Nigerian goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi.

Kgatlana ran off to celebrate, and was soon joined by her teammates, while coach Desiree Ellis also jumped for joy on the sidelines.

Kgatlana nearly wrapped things up a few seconds later from another through-ball by Seoposenwe, but this time her first touch eluded her, and Oluehi came out to smother the danger.

But the South Africans held on for a memorable victory over the Super Falcons.

Banyana’s next Group B match is on Wednesday against Equatorial Guinea (8.30pm SA time). The top three teams at the end of the tournament will qualify for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup.

@ashfakmohamed


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