Banyana Banyana have beaten Nigeria in their first step towards qualifying for the World Cup.
In the dying minutes of the game in Ghana on Sunday, Thembi Kgatlana came off the bench to score a stunning volley, handing Banyana Banyana a surprise 1-0 victory over defending champions Nigeria in their opening group stage encounter of the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
Banyana Banyana the Underdogs
Banyana Banyana came into the game as the underdogs. With the Super Falcons being the most successful side in the tournament, many people had written South Africa off, but Kgatlane’s 88th-minute strike ensured Nigeria tasted defeat for the first time in their Africa Women Cup of Nations opening game.
The skilful 22-year-old forward said Nigeria has always had an upper hand against South Africa.
Banyana Banyana the Victors
“Today marks the second time Banyana Banyana beat Nigeria and it is a very historic moment for us because starting with such a performance will give us confidence going into the next one. And our aim here is to qualify together as a team and eventually go to the World Cup.”
This is a perfect start for Banyana Banyana as they look to qualify for the World Cup for the first time by finishing in the top three in the Africa Women Cup of Nations. But they cannot afford to allow their victory against Nigeria to go in their heads as they still to face Equatorial Guinea and Zambia.
“We knew the Nigerian defence is slow and we had to capitalise on that. They had their chances. They could have killed us but they didn’t. This is football, you win by scoring and we scored today that’s why we won,” said Kgatlana.
The Goal that Won the Game
Commenting on her decisive goal, Kgatlana said it was the most amazing feeling ever.
“The adrenalin was rushing. Every time I get into the box, I still have to decide on my next move, but at that moment when the ball bounced it was now or never.”
👏😲 A surprise result!
😙👌 A sumptuous goal!
💥And the volley to win it really was something! pic.twitter.com/RChbxb9bZ2
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) November 18, 2018
Kgatlana scored from a beautifully played ball by Jermaine Seoposenwe. According to the Houston Dash player, Seoposenwe told her she was going to score against Nigeria.
“Having to score a ball that came from her means a lot to me because before she played that ball, we had good eye contact and we saw that the defenders gave me a lot of space to run into and I utilised that and I was able to score,” she said.
The Mohlakeng-born striker was awarded the player of the match award for her contribution to the Banyana Banyana win over the Super Falcons.
“There are still about four games left before the final, so it’s one step at a game and I am not putting myself under pressure. And the team also, like I said we are taking it one game at a time and from there we will see what happens,” said Kgatlana.
Banyana Banyana will face Equatorial Guinea in their second Africa Women Cup of Nations game on Wednesday.