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Banyana bury bonus row as World Cup begins

Kgatlana fancies SA's chances against high ranking opponents

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Thembi Kgatlana, Refiloe Jane and Nomvula Kgoale lead Banyana at training in New Zealand before the start of the women's World Cup. SA face Sweden on Sunday.
Thembi Kgatlana, Refiloe Jane and Nomvula Kgoale lead Banyana at training in New Zealand before the start of the women's World Cup. SA face Sweden on Sunday.
Image: Twitter

Banyana Banyana star Thembi Kgatlana has highlighted that they've put the bonus row with Safa behind them, switching attention to the World Cup itself, albeit they were not yet in "full agreement" with the local football mother body.

"It was a difficult time for us that we faced before we left the country but coming to the World Cup was something we've always wanted to do,'' Kgatlana said on Tuesday.

"Once we got into an agreement with the federation, not a full agreement though, in terms of the payments and bonuses, we were able to get into New Zealand and switch on to say 'hey, we are here, we worked hard to be here and let's enjoy being here'. I am very happy with the progress of the team after all that has happened."

Banyana and Safa were at loggerheads over World Cup bonuses, until a combined R8m donation from the Motsepe Foundation and Ithuba National Lottery rescued the situation at the 11th hour to ensure the team leave for Wellington two weeks ago.

However, recent reports suggest Banyana players have refused to sign the bonus contract until Safa commits that the support staff will also get bonuses. Kgatlana didn't want to elaborate on why they were still not in full agreement with Safa.

In this global showpiece, co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, Banyana are in Group G alongside Sweden, Italy and Argentina. SA will get their campaign under way by facing Sweden at Wellington Regional Stadium on Sunday (7am SA time).

New Zealand open the tournament with a clash against Norway on Thursday (9am SA time), while Australia will face Republic of Ireland at midday.

Kgatlana is not fazed by the fact that all their pool opponents are ranked far higher than them globally, drawing motivation from Zambia, who stunned Germany 3-2 in a friendly two weeks ago. Germany are second on the Fifa rankings.

"If you look at our group, those teams are  ranked higher than us [Banyana are ranked 54th]. We have Sweden who are third and we have Argentina (ranked 28th) and Italy (16th),'' US-based Kgatlana stated.

"For me, it's more about who wants it the most on the day. Rankings don't mean so much nowadays... we saw the other day Zambia beating Germany, who're ranked second in the world. On the day, Zambia came and showed they wanted it more."

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