Banyana Banyana star Thembi Kgatlana reveals what Didier Drogba told her in Dakar

10 January 2019 - 14:19
By Marc Strydom
Ivorian soccer player Didier Drogba (R) presents South African Thembi Kgatlana (L) with the Women’s Player of the Year trophy during the CAFAWARD 2018 ceremony in Dakar, Senegal, on January 8, 2019.
Image: SEYLLOU / AFP Ivorian soccer player Didier Drogba (R) presents South African Thembi Kgatlana (L) with the Women’s Player of the Year trophy during the CAFAWARD 2018 ceremony in Dakar, Senegal, on January 8, 2019.

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 South Africa.

Kgatlana (22)‚ who also won 2018 Women's Player the Year‚ arrived back to a small but enthusiastic reception at OR Tambo International Airport just after noon on Thursday.

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's players.

"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 goalpoacher it also gives me confidence going into the friendly games I'm going to [for Banyana 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‚" she said.

"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. 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‚" she said.

It was Kgatlana's 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‚ the Houston Dash forward said: "I was panicking a bit. Because Asisiat had taken it the last time.

"But I knew that my performance at Afcon really put me ahead.

"And when they called my name I just jumped and was full of joy knowing that it was my first time that I won African Player of the Year‚ and the first South African after Noko Matlou 10 years ago."