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SPORT: Kgatlana relishes high-profile clash with Nigeria

SPORT: Kgatlana relishes high-profile clash with Nigeria

Publish date: 2022-07-04 05:25:21 | Author: Agency Report | Source: punchng.com

South Africa striker Thembi Kgatlana says Monday’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations match against reigning champions Nigeria will provide a major boost for women’s football in Africa.

The finalists at the last WAFCON both begin their Group C campaigns in Rabat on Monday when facing one another in a repeat of the last final, in 2018.

As so often before, Nigeria’s Super Falcons won that match, albeit needing a penalty shoot-out to do so, to clinch the title, their ninth overall.

With a host of stars in action, such as Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala and Kgatlana, who plays for Atletico Madrid, the 26-year-old believes today’s match will be a showpiece event.

“It’s good for women’s football because even outside Africa, we know a lot of people are going to be watching that match,” Kgatlana told BBC Sport Africa.

“We have a lot of players in Nigeria playing in Atleti and in Barcelona, and in South Africa we have players in AC Milan and in a lot of big leagues, so it’s going to be attracting a lot of attention.

“It’s going to create a good impact on women’s football, not only in Africa, but in the world as well. I think that’s what we need for African women’s football.”

Both top scorer and player of the tournament at the WAFCON in 2018, a year when she was named the African Football’s women’s player of the year, Kgatlana is aware of the challenge presented by Monday’s opponents.

Nigeria have won a record nine titles since the WAFCON began in 1998, with South Africa having lost four finals – including two to the Super Falcons themselves.

The teams met at this stage of the 2018 tournament, with South Africa gaining a rare victory over their opponents, who avenged that defeat in the final in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

“It’s going to be a big bite to chew,” said Kgatlana when asked if South Africa can win it.

“We cannot avoid the fact that Nigeria are the reigning champions and they’ve experience when it comes to this tournament.

“Nigeria have proved to be the top team and I don’t recall any other (African) country beating Nigeria, besides South Africa.

“To play the first match, everyone knows that that’s going to be a highly-anticipated match.”

South Africa inflicted defeat on the Super Falcons in last year’s Aisha Buhari Cup in Nigeria, winning 4-2, in a result that can boost the team’s confidence, even if coach Desiree Ellis played down its importance on Sunday when saying it counted for little.

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