Drogba’s words gives Kgat­lana the drive

Africa’s finest mo­ti­vated

Sowetan - - Dipapadi - By Marc Stry­dom

Thembi Kgat­lana got a mes­sage from Ivory Coast and Chelsea strik­ing leg­end Di­dier Drogba to “keep on go­ing” when he pre­sented the Banyana Banyana star with the Goal of the Year prize at the CAF awards‚ she said ar­riv­ing back in SA.

Kgat­lana, 22‚ who also won 2018 Women’s Player of the Year‚ ar­rived back to a small but en­thu­si­as­tic re­cep­tion at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port just after noon yes­ter­day.

Her nom­i­na­tion for Goal of the Year saw her su­per strike against Nige­ria at the Africa Women’s Cup of Na­tions (Af­con) up against those of men and women.

“I think that’s the best I could ever think or want to achieve. I never thought one day Drogba would give me the award for the best goal‚” Kgat­lana‚ the top scorer for los­ing fi­nal­ists Banyana at the Af­con in Ghana last year‚ said.

“And be­cause he was the best goal poacher it also gives me con­fi­dence go­ing into the friendly games [against Swe­den and Nether­lands in Cape Town in the com­ing week] know­ing that Di­dier Drogba gave me a mes­sage‚ telling me to ‘keep on go­ing’.”

Kgat­lana thanked South Africans for get­ting be­hind her in the pub­lic vote for Goal of the Year.

“This tro­phy be­longs to them and not to me.

“I’m priv­i­leged to have it un­der my roof. It will be a re­minder that in 2018 I had a good sea­son and the whole of South Africa backed me up with their vote. So, thank you.”

Kgat­lana was greeted at the air­port by about 30 sup­port­ers‚ mostly from her home town‚ Mohlak­eng in Rand­fontein‚ and mother Con­stance. Her fa­ther, Gabriel, had trav­elled with her to Dakar.

“I’m de­lighted. These peo­ple come from my com­mu­nity. They have been sup­port­ing me through­out my ca­reer‚” said Kgat­lana. It was her sec­ond nom­i­na­tion for Women’s Player of the Year‚ los­ing out to this year’s fel­low nom­i­nee from Nige­ria Asisat Oshoala last year.

De­scrib­ing her emo­tions as her name was read out‚ the Hous­ton Dash for­ward said: “I was pan­ick­ing a bit be­cause Asisat had taken it the last time. But I knew that my per­for­mance at Af­con re­ally put me ahead.”

/ SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACK­PAGEPIX

Thembi Kgat­lana.

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