SOUTH Africa’s blossoming flower girl, Thembi Kgatlana, has taken her father along with to Dakar, Senegal where she stands a chance of being crowned with the Africa Woman Player of the Year and Goal of the Year tonight.
She told SunSport that the support of her father, Matlhomola Kgatlana, goes a long way.
And that’s why she thought it was important to take him along to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Awards ceremony to be held in Dakar, Senegal tonight at 9pm (SA time).
The same venue will tomorrow be used to announce the new host of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Cameroon was stripped off the rights to host due to readiness, and it all looks good for South Africa to win the rights to host the 24 teams, which is an increase from 16.
The 22-year-old Banyana Banyana and Huston Dash striker admitted to being confident this time around, having came runners-up to Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala in the same classy position.
She will vie for the honour of Player of Year alongside Nigerians – Ashoala and Francisca Ordega.
Kgatlana’s outstanding showing was when she led Banyana to a second place finish in the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana to qualify for their first ever Fifa Women’s World Cup.
The World Cup will be held in France from 7 June to 7 July.
She finished the tournament as the top goal scorer with five goals, and was named Player of the Tournament.
She’s nominated for the goal she scored against Nigeria in Group B’s opening match.
Kgatlana said: “Growing up all I wanted was to make my parents proud, and winning this award will be the greatest highlight of my career. My father will get to witness the great moment first hand.
“It’s a great feeling to be with my father in Senegal.”
She said she was nervous in last year’s awards ceremony but currently, she is beaming with confidence and ready to ascend the stage twice to collect her trophies.
“I have done my job and now we are waiting for the big moment,” she said.
Noko Matlou remains the only SA woman player to have won the African Player of the Year Award in 2008.
Another trophy hopeful is Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis.
She is nominated in the Coach of the Year category alongside Joseph Ndoko of Cameroon and Nigeria’s coach Thomas Dennerby.
This is Ellis’ first season as head coach but she has reached the runners’ up position in Women’s Afcon and broke the duck in guiding Banyana to qualify for their first World Cup.
Banyana are also vying for the African Women’s Team of the Year for the second time running after claiming the title last year.
They will compete with Nigeria and Cameroon.