Thembi Kgatlana’s superb strike sinks Nigeria at Africa Women’s Championship
Thembi Kgatlana scored a superb goal as SA got their Africa Women’s Championship campaign off to a dream start with a 1-0 victory over defending champions Nigeria in their Group B opener in Cape Coast‚ Ghana, on Sunday.
The win is just the second ever over Nigeria for Banyana Banyana and gives them a huge boost in their bid to finish in the top three at the continental finals and seal a place at the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
The decisive moment came five minutes from the end when Kgatlana‚ sent off the bench as an impact player by coach Desiree Ellis‚ drilled a volley into the back of the net after being set up by Jermaine Seoposenwe.
It was a magical moment for Houston Dash star Kgatlana‚ and a winning goal that should give the side much confidence for the remainder of the tournament.
The first shot on goal came from Refiloe Jane‚ who blasted a volley from the edge of the box high and wide. Midfielder Mamello Makhabane tried a speculative shot from 30m that flashed just wide.
Jane was unfortunate when she burst clear but was held back‚ though the match officials saw nothing wrong‚ while at the other end there was a big let-off when reigning African Women’s Footballer of the Year Asisat Oshoala fluffed her opportunity after she had seemed destined to score.
Janine van Wyk’s free-kick was saved by Nigeria keeper Tochukwu Oluehi‚ before Seoposenwe lost her balance at the vital moment with the goal gaping just before the break.
The pacey Kgatlana replaced Busisiwe Ndimeni just past the hour mark as coach Ellis sought to run at the Nigeria defence.
There was a scare with 10 minutes remaining when Super Falcons star Desire Oparanozie had a headed chance that she directed over the crossbar.
But Kgatlana netted her 11th goal in 41 appearances for Banyana‚ another crucial strike in her collection of many.
Next up for Banyana is a clash against Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday‚ followed by a final Group B game against Zambia on Saturday.