Banyana lynchpin Thembi Kgatlana and Co can snare Nigeria’s Super Falcons

Striker Thembi Kgatlana was one of the stars of Banyana’s World Cup campaign last year. Photo: BackpagePix

Striker Thembi Kgatlana was one of the stars of Banyana’s World Cup campaign last year. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Apr 5, 2024


The plethora of Banyana Banyana players plying their trade abroad has helped to raise the standards of the national women’s team and that will be in evidence again in today’s Olympic qualifying clash against Nigeria.

The Paris Olympics is Banyana’s next target, and two matches against arch-rivals Nigeria (home and away) are standing in the way of South Africa’s Sasol-sponsored team.

Banyana’s ever-improving ability is reflected in the statistics, which show the South Africans have won four of their last five meetings against Nigeria, the 11-time African champions.

And another significant pointer to the team’s growing status is Banyana’s dramatic 3-2 Group G win against Italy at the last Fifa World Cup to reach the round of 16, just over a year ago.

One of Banyana’s heroes that day was Thembi Kgatlana, who struck in injury time to give South Africa a historic win.

Kgatlana is one of the foreign-based players that could give Banyana the edge against Nigeria in a match coach Desiree Ellis describes as “the mother-of-all games”.

The second leg of this 2024 Paris Olympic women’s qualifier between Banyana Banyana and Nigeria will be played at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The aggregate winner after the two legs will qualify for the Paris Olympics.

Here, we look at a trio of foreign-based Banyana players who could help book that ticket to Paris ...

Thembi Kgatlana (Tigres UANL, Mexico)

Kgatlana, the poster girl of South African women’s football, has established herself as one of the best players in Africa after many impressive individual performances in the international arena.

She has captured the imagination of fans worldwide because of her skills, which include great dribbling ability, blistering pace and clinical finishing.

She is also someone who produces great off-the-ball play as she sets up attacking opportunities for her teammates in the strike zone.

Kgatlana, the lynchpin of the national side over the last while, and a former African Women’s Player of the Year winner, is the one player that can dominate today’s match.

Linda Motlhalo (Racing Louisville, US)

Midfielder Mothlalo has been one of the rising stars of the team. Her play has grown in leaps and bounds after plying her trade abroad. She is mostly used as a winger out wide, where her pace can become a nightmare for the opposition defence.

She does well to draw opposition defenders in and can prise open gaps in opponents’ rearguard. She provides goalmouth crosses that are not always easy to deal with, and it brings the team’s frontrunners into play in the strike zone.

She has a never-say-die attitude, and does well to link up with teammates when setting on attacking sorties out wide.

Jermaine Seoposenwe (CF Monterrey, Mexico)

Seoposenwe, one of the team’s star players and also one of the most potent attacking weapons, has searing pace to boot.

The Nigerians will look to keep her on a tight rein – otherwise their defence will be under great pressure.

She has excellent ball-control skills and can torment defenders, while she can create inviting opportunities for her fellow forwards.

She is also useful player when the coach looks to change the approach up front, because she is equally effective playing through the middle or out wide.