3 January 2019– Banyana Banyana forward Thembi Kgatlana believes she stands a good chance of returning with some silverware as she has been nominated in two top categories t the 2018 CAF Awards.
Kgatlana, who plies her trade in the USA with Houston Dash, is in the hat for the African Women’s Player of the Year as well as for the CAF Goal of the Year award.
The latter nomination is for the strike she took when the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana defeated Nigeria 1-0 in their opening match of the 2018 Women’s AFCON held in Ghana in November.
The goal also earned her the Player of the Match of Award – she went on to score four more goals to be crowned Player of the Tournament.
The Goal of the Year winner will be decided via online public voting.
The nominees have been selected based on their performance from February 2018 to November 2018 – a period in which Kgatlana shone.
The pint-sized player is also in the top three of the Women’s Player of the Year 2018 award.
Kgatlana will have to fight off the challenge of the Nigerian duo of Asisat Oshoala and Fransisca Ordega. This is Kgatlana’s second consecutive nomination for the same award – which she lost to Oshoala – but this time around she will be hoping to become the second South African after Noko Matlou won the title in 2008.
Oshoala has bagged this accolade for the last two years, and has three title overall (2014, 2016, 2017 – should she win, she will match the milestone of her compatriot Perpetua Nkwacha who won in 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011.
Kgatlana led her country to the final of the 2018 Women’s AFCON held in Ghana in November – enough to ensure qualification to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in France in June.
She scored five goals, which saw her win three Woman of the Match accolades in a row – a feat which led her to being crowned the Player of the Tournament.
“I am speechless, I am over the moon just about the nomination – but as for two of them, I can only say that God is great. After losing in 2017, I said back then that this was a good wake up call for me to work even harder, and now the results are there for all to see,” said Kgatlana, who has been called up for the Banyana Banyana squad to face the Netherlands and Sweden in Cape Town later this month.
“The truth is, in both nominations I am up against tough candidates, but I feel more confident going to the awards this time around, and I can only thank my teammates and the coaching staff for this feeling because football is a team sport, if it was not for them I would not have performed the way I did, and would not have received these nominations. I just hope I bring back something this time – but if I don’t, I will have to go back and work even harder until I bring it home.”
Meanwhile, Banyana Banyana are also in the running for the CAF Women’s National Team of Year – an award they won in 2018. South Africa faces stiff competition from Cameroon (2018 Women’s AFCON semi-finalists) and Nigeria (2018 Women’s AFCON finalists).
Head coach Desiree Ellis has also been nominated in the Coach of the Year category – again fighting off the challenge of Joseph Brian Ndoko (Cameroon) and Thomas Dennerby (Nigeria).
All three nominees will be leading their teams at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in June.
Ellis is the first person to qualify the South African Senior Women’s National Team to a FIFA World Cup.
The shortlisted nominees were decided by votes from the members of the Caf Technical and Development Committee.
The Awards Gala, to honour footballers, officials and administrators who distinguished themselves during the year under review (2018), will be held on Tuesday, 8 January 2019 in Dakar, Senegal.