6 January 2018 – Banyana Banyana striker Thembi Kgatlana is proud of her achievement despite not winning the 2017 CAF Woman Player of the Year at the 2017 AITEO CAF Awards held on Thursday, 4 December 2017 in Accra, Ghana.
Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala walked away with the title. The award on the night was handed over by Banyana Banyana defender Noko Matlou, who won it back in 2008.
While she is disappointed with the outcome, Kgatlana says she is not defeated. The striker is back in the country and has vowed to continue from where she left off in 2017.
“It was an overwhelming experience to be in the midst of Africa’s greatest football stars, legends and leaders. This is a moment I will forever cherish. I may not have won the award, but I am truly grateful that CAF recognised my performance for 2017, and thus far, the nomination is the greatest achievement I have had in my career. I believe with this recognition I am also a winner and this is will help me continue working hard and chasing my dream, which is to be part of the core of great players in Africa and around the world,” said Kgatlana.
“I would also like to thank all my coaches, all my teammates both at club and national team level, because without them I would not have reached these heights. Gratitude also goes to our proud sponsor Sasol and SAFA for all the support and platform they have given us players to showcase our talent. I am confident that with the kind of good players we have, we will be back on the podium again for this award.”
Kgatlana was ecstatic however that the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana were crowned the 2017 CAF Women’s National Team of the Year – and she was on hand to receive the award.
“I could not believe it when I heard our name being called out. I was overcome with joy. It only sank in when I saw the trophy in my hands and I said to myself, ‘yes we did it’. It was a team effort that we won this title. We worked as a unit. This trophy belongs to everyone – from the technical team, to the players and the support staff, as well as the fans back home. This is a tremendous achievement,” added Kgatlana.
Banyana Banyana were in competition with the U20 National Teams of Ghana and Nigeria for the award.
South Africa’s success at the 2017 CAF Awards comes after they won the COSAFA Women’s Championship in Zimbabwe in September last year, where they were unbeaten in the tournament. They won the trophy a record fourth time.
Banyana Banyana will be hoping their good fortune continues when they take on Sweden in two clashes in Cape Town this month.
The first one will be a practice match behind closed doors on Thursday, 18 January 2018 at the Athlone Stadium.
The two nations will meet again on Sunday, 21 January 2018 in an international friendly encounter at the Cape Town Stadium.
Kickoff is at 14h00.
Banyana Banyana assemble for camp on Sunday, 14 January 2018 and fly directly to the Mother City on the same day to start preparations for the two fixtures.