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Kgatlana stars as Banyana take step towards 2024 Olympic Games

Late brace secures SA victory over DR Congo

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa during the 2024 Womens Olympic Qualifier match between South Africa and Congo DR at the Orlando Stadium on Monday
Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa during the 2024 Womens Olympic Qualifier match between South Africa and Congo DR at the Orlando Stadium on Monday
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Thembi Kgatlana turned on the heat on a wintry Monday afternoon, scoring a late brace to send Banyana Banyana to the third and penultimate round of the Caf Olympics qualifiers at the expense of DR Congo.

Banyana recorded a 2-0 victory in the second leg of the second round of this qualifiers, meaning it’s 3-1 on aggregate as the first leg, played in Kinshasa, last week had finished 1-all.

Contrary to the previous reports that the away goals rule was counting, the game was going to go to extra time had it finished goalless as emerged later that the away goals rule wasn’t applying in this qualifiers. Nicole Michael of TS Galaxy assisted Kgatlana in both goals in the 71st and 88th minutes. Both goals were well-taken tap-ins.

Andile Dlamini unexpectedly returned to the starting XI, having been playing second fiddle to Kaylin Swart. Dlamini last played for Banyana before the World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand between July and August.

Especially in the first stanza Banyana weren’t in their element, struggling to string together passes. Banyana also uncharacteristically misplaced passes. The pitch looked a bit heavy after the rain poured down a little bit, before the game started. The pitch condition may have resulted in Banyana failing to play their normal game.

However, they still managed to create a number of good chances with skipper Kgatlana initially failing to tuck away the easiest of those chances before she redeemed herself later on.

Seeing that Banyana were struggling to deal with the visitors’ physicality, especially in the middle of the park, Banyana coach Desiree Ellis decided to sacrifice striker Hildah Magaia for non-nonsense central midfielder Kholosa Biyana in the 54th minute.

The introduction of Biyana brought about stability in Banyana’s midfield as she managed to win battles against Congo’s Kubiena Kalala, who had been doing as she pleased before the Banyana holding midfielder was introduced.

Banyana are yet to learn their opponents of the third round but the fixtures will be played in February next year. Paris will host the upcoming Olympics from July to August next year.


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