BANYANA BANYANA star Thembi Kgatlana earned her nickname "Pikinini" because of her diminutive figure.
But after her exquisite solitary strike gave SA a famous victory over old nemesis Nigeria in the opening group match of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations at the weekend, Kgatlana, 22, proved again that playing to your strengths is vital in football.
Pikinini translates to “small one”. Coming off the bench midway through the second stanza at Cape Coast Stadium in Ghana, Kgatlana appeared to have read the match well while she was on the bench.
The Banyana striker outsmarted the more physical Nigeria defenders, relying on her skill and speed down the flanks to good effect. She did not allow them to take advantage of her small frame.
“I like my nickname a lot. It keeps me going because I always want to show people that the most important thing is to use your brains and talent. It was the most amazing feeling ever [to score against Nigeria]. I knew if I let the ball bounce for the second time, I might not get the chance to unleash a shot,” said Kgatlana of her stunning winner.
Sunday’s victory was only Banyana’s second over the Super Falcons. Their first win dates back to 2012.
SA hope to finish top of Group B. They face Equatorial Guinea today (6.30pm SA time), before clashing with Zambia in the last group fixture on Saturday.
“We knew when we saw the draw that this day [Sunday] will determine our careers. Nigeria have always had the upper hand against SA, not only on the male side but even on the female side. It’s a historic moment for us,” noted Kgatlana, who plays in the US with Houston Dash.
Skipper Janine van Wyk felt there were some elements of their game they must rectify in the rest of their matches.
“We lost possession very cheaply, that’s something we need to take out of our play because we are good and dominating when we keep the ball on the ground. Even our finishing was not convincing. I think Fifi [Refiloe Jane] got two chances but did not score,” said Van Wyk.
Meanwhile, Bafana plays Paraguay in tonight’s Nelson Mandela Challenge at Moses Mabhida Stadium, reports Karabo MOLOI.
Bafana who drew against the Nigerian male team in last weekend’s AFCON Qualifier 2019 to be held in Cameroon, will have to either win or settle for a draw against Libya in their away game.
Firing blanks and at times failing to complete a simple five time-passes Bafana will have to come back to ‘Mother Earth’ and put on their scoring boots to qualify for Cameroon or else someone’s job is on the line, including some of the players’.
Notably, Thulani Serero was nowhere in the game owing to injury yet coach Stuart Baxter and his technical team opted NOT to substitute him, that resulted in backlash from agitated fans at the FNB Stadium.
Would they redeem themselves against Paraguay tonight- it remains to be seen?