South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana believes this is the time that Banyana Banyana can dethrone Nigeria.
The South African senior women’s team is currently in camp preparing for the upcoming TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations taking place in Morocco. From 2-23 July.
Out of the five Women’s AFCON finals that Banyana have played, three were against Nigeria, the Super Falcons went to win all of them. However in the recent years Desiree Ellis’ side have been fighting back and have beaten the Falcons twice between 2018 and 2021.
The rivals have been pitted against each other in this year’s edition of the competition, alongside debutants Burundi and Botswana in Group C.
Atlético Madrid star, believes they have what it takes do end Nigeria’s domination. Kgatlana was the stand out player in the last edition held in Ghana, walking away as the player of the tournament and top goal scorer having netted five matches in the competition.
“I think for a number of years Banyana hadn’t exported a lot of players overseas and that has given Nigeria and other teams the upper hand because they were able to export players.
“But then things are starting to look good and exciting for Banyana because we have a number of overseas based players, that means they are training every day, physically and mentally, at a high level.
“And we have the Hollywoodbets (Super League) that is on season, that means the coaches will not have a problem getting the players to be fit than playing a tournament and some players are offseason.
“I think for a number of years Banyana have struggled because they were not able to export players but things are looking positive now,” she explains.
Bragging right of being the best team on the continent are not the only thing on offer for this year’s edition. The top semi finalists will also qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The 2018 Women’s Footballer of the Year, says getting three points in their opening match will set them good for getting into the knockout stages.
“We don’t have to undermine anyone, it’s football and everyone is there to show what they can do and more specifically in our group having two debutants, for us it’s going to be a challenge to be disciplined and still be able to bring our A game even when we play teams that are lower ranked than us,” says Kgatlana.
“I mean getting into the quarter or semi finals for us is just taking one game at a time because we don’t want to say we’re gonna do this, do that and when things don’t happen we hold ourselves with a gun to the head.
“But taking one game at a time is what will help us, that is the same mentality we had in 2018 and the important thing was getting the results that we needed in watch,” she adds.
Banyana will face Nigeria in their opening match of the competition on 4 July at Prince Moulay Hassan Sports Complex in Rabat.