Banyana Banyana dream of emulating Springboks in Paris alive after Thembi Kgatlana brace

Banyana Banyana star Thembi Kgatlana celebrates her goal against the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Banyana Banyana star Thembi Kgatlana celebrates after scoring their 2024 Olympic Qualifier against the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Orlando Stadium. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Oct 30, 2023

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Banyana Banyana followed up the Springboks’ heroics in France with their own top performance when they progressed to the third round of the Caf Olympic qualifiers.

Banyana beat the Democratic Republic of Congo 3-1 on aggregate in the second round of the qualifiers, having won the return leg 2-0 at a wet and cold Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on Monday afternoon.

Captain Thembi Kgatlana scored a brace in Orlando, adding to the goal she scored in Kinshasa as Banyana kept their hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics alive.

Having missed out on the last Olympic games following defeat to Botswana at this very same ground in 2019, the African queens seem hellbent to go to Paris.

After all, the French capital left an lasting mark on all South Africans on Saturday as the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup crown for a record fourth time.

Coach Desiree Ellis needed her team to be at their best to win and progress to the next round, having only got away with a 1-1 draw in Kinshasa.

But, by the 71st minute, the match was still level as contest, the home side left frustrated after creating many chances.

Ellis had some of her key players back for this contest, after they missed out on the last clash due to various issues, including exam schedules.

But all eyes were probably on the return of goalkeeper Andile Dlamini between the posts, as the Mamelodi Sundowns keeper last played for the national team before their historic World Cup run.

Dlamini, though, didn’t have much to do upon her return to Banyana, as her makeshift defence, which included winger Wendy Shongwe, stood firm.

It was up front that Ellis’ troops were the busiest – but without penetration. Captain Kgatlana was the most unfortunate player not to come away with the early goal.

It seemed as if it wasn’t Banyana’s day, as the South Africans also had another goal-bound shot cleared off the line by Danny Ngoyi midway through the second half.

But that all changed after the introduction of Kholosa Biyana for Hildah Magaia, as she not only stabilised the midfield, but also played a part in the first goal.

The Sundowns’ anchor unleashed a defence splitting pass that found Nicole Michael, who had Ngamita to beat before deciding to selflessly set-up Kgatlana instead.

And the duo were not satisfied combining for the first goal. Michael was again the provider as she whipped in a well-weighted square-ball that the onrushing and unmarked Kgatlana thumped past Ngamita.

This was the third time in two matches that the two linked up for Banyana, as Michael also assisted Kgatlana when they drew in Kinshasa last Wednesday.

But while that goal was a mere equaliser, this afternoon’s goals meant a great deal as Banyana won the tie to be two qualifying rounds away from booking their ticket to Paris.

@Mihlalibaleka