Playing without fear was the catalyst for Banyana Banyana to vanquish defending champions the Super Falcons in the opening Group B fixture of 2018 African Women Cup of Nations in Ghana according to match-winner Chrestinah Kgatlana.
Kgatlana scored a sublime volley in the 85th minute at the Cape Coast Sports stadium to consign Nigeria to a first ever opening day defeat at the AWCON and speaking with the self-assuredness that comes with having had a stellar preparation in the lead up to the tournament, the Houston Dash of USA forward said that mentally demystifying the Falcons, enabled South Africa get the victory.
“We knew that it was going to be a difficult game against Nigeria,” the 22-year old forward told busybuddiesng.com, “but for once I’m very proud of my team that we didn’t fear Nigeria and we did not give them too much credit that they won [the AWCON] 10 times.”
Kgatlana had been part of the squad that fell in the semi-finals to the Super Falcons at the 2016 AWCON in Cameroon, and the manner in which the entire team celebrated her goal and again at the end of the match showed how cathartic the win was to Banyana Banyana who have always struggled against Nigeria.
“This means a lot to me,” said Kgatlana who was also named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the match, “more especially for the team because we know how important it is that we have won this game.”
The 2018 AWCON also doubles as a qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA Women World Cup in France, and South Africa have made it their stated goal at this tournament, to ensure qualification for the world cup having never made an appearance at the Mundial in their history. To achieve that aim, Kgatlana emphasizes teamwork and taking “each and every game step by step” as necessary for Banyana Banyana to secure the required top three finish in Ghana.
“Going forward, we looking forward to be playing together as a team and we are here for one goal which is to qualify for the World Cup and we going to take each and every game step by step.”