Banyana Banyana player Thembi Kgatlana has revealed that the injury she suffered in the middle of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) in Morocco last month has ruled her out of action for a year.
The 26-year-old striker suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during Banyana’s final group match against Botswana on July 10.
However, she and Safa chief medical officer Thulani Ngwenya say there is no need to panic, as Banyana’s poster player could recover just in time for next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
WATCH: TEAM DOCTOR EXPLAINS KGATLANA'S INJURY
Banyana have qualified for the July 20 to August 20 global showpiece by reaching the Wafcon semifinals, together with Morocco, Zambia and Nigeria.
“As far as I know, the doctors said I’ll be out for a year. Still, I’m happy that [I’ll be back on the field] just before the World Cup, so everyone can relax,” said Kgatlana on the sidelines of a media conference on Friday at Safa House to confirm Banyana’s R400 000 bonus payments for winning the Wafcon.
“Thembi’s injury was a complete rapture of the Achilles tendon, but we acted promptly in getting her from Morocco to Cape Town so that one of the best surgeons could operate on her,” explains Ngwenya.
“In terms of the book, she’s expected to be out of action for about nine months or so, but we’re working around the clock to give her the best chance of recovering before the World Cup.
“She’s going for another follow-up consultation with the surgeon at the end of this month and we’re hoping to get positive feedback. We’ve been in communication with the medical teams at both the clubs where she was playing and where she’s supposed to go.”
Kgatlana is due to join her new club in the US National Women’s Soccer League, Racing Louisville, after leaving Atlético de Madrid Femenino in Spain recently.
Ngwenya says the star could start rehabilitation therapy now.
“We’re going to work with the team who’ll be doing Thembi’s rehabilitation – the physiotherapists and biokineticists – to ensure we get her to where she’s supposed to be,” she says, adding that Safa has been paying her medical bills.
“Everything’s been taken care of and Dr Ngwenya’s been going up and down, sometimes calling at midnight to make sure everything’s sorted,” says Kgatlana, who scored in South Africa’s 3-1 win over Burundi in the second group match and started in all of Banyana’s three pool matches at the Wafcon until she was stretchered off in the 69th minute against Botswana.
“I know they said they did it for me, but they also did it for themselves and the country. It was great seeing them bring the trophy home,” she says.
By coincidence, Kgatlana and another poster player of the tournament, Asisat Oshoala of Nigeria, were injured almost at the same time and both were subsequently ruled out of the tournament.
On Friday, the 27-year-old became the first African woman player to receive a Ballon d’Or nomination.
She was crowned Africa’s best footballer player for a record fifth time at the CAF awards ceremony that was held on the sidelines of the Wafcon last month.