The Banyana Banyana star has been underwhelming in the outgone year, but insists she is very satisfied to earn a third finalist spot.
Thembi Kgatlana has stated that winning the African Women’s Player of the Year award does not matter anymore to her and is simply satisfied to make the final shortlist for the third time in a row.
Kgatlana is in the race to scoop the 2019 prize but must fend off tough competition from Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala and Cameroon’s Ajara Nchout who both enjoyed memorable campaigns.
The 23-year-old claimed the coveted prize in 2018 after an excellent outing at the African Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana, where she clinched the Golden Boot and best player awards.
Her excellent form helped South Africa qualify for the first time to the Women’s World Cup in France, where she scored the country’s only goal in their first-ever participation in a 3-1 loss to Spain.
On her debut season in China, the Banyana Banyana star scored nine goals in all competitions for Beijing Phoenix as they finished fifth in the Chinese Women’s Super League in the 2019 season.
Kgatlana’s absence from international duty could prove costly for her quest for a back-to-back award as South Africa bowed out in the second round of the 2020 Tokyo qualifiers against Botswana.
The Beijing Phoenix player is not moved by the prospect of losing the crown and insists she is focusing on improving as a player.
“I will say 2019 was a great year for me,” Kgatlana told South African radio station, Kaya FM.
“To do well in 2019, of course, I took inspiration from my performances in 2018 which got me crowned the African Women’s Player of the Year in January 2019 in Dakar, Senegal.
“That drove me to continue working hard because whether I win or not, I need to work hard as a football player and do my job on the field.
“My highlight for 2019 was scoring the only goal for South Africa at the Women’s World Cup in France. For me, it is not about to win the award or not, getting a nomination is an achievement.
“Three times in a row, I’ve been nominated for the award, the first year I missed it and the second year I scooped it.
“Today, I think it doesn’t matter anymore whether I win it or not, the bigger picture is, I’m a football player and will always be.”
The winner of the African Women’s Player of the Year award will be announced at the Caf Awards Gala on Tuesday night in Egypt.