Banyana Banyana has been dealt a huge blow in their quest for a first TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations title after striker Thembi Kgatlana was ruled out of the tournament with an injury.
The 2018 African Player of the Year, who was the highest goal scorer at the 2018 edition with five goals, sustained a complete rupture of the left achilles tendon in South Africa’s last Group C game against Botswana on Sunday night at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, according to the Banyana Banyana Doctor Rodney Mokoka.
Mokoka explained that, “Thembi suffered a complete rupture of her left achilles tendon as confirmed by the MRI scan this morning. Unfortunately, she will be out for the whole WAFCON 2022 tournament. She is due to undergo an operation back in South Africa.”
“Healing will be guided by certain milestones that we have to achieve. Of course a comprehensive rehabilitation program will be in place for her, but the quicker we achieve those milestones the sooner she will be back on the field of play. She will start jogging in about 12-16 weeks, which is roughly three months, return to non-sport after 16-21 weeks and return to contact sport 20-24 weeks from now,” said Mokoka.
The 26-year old Kgatlana, who just signed for Racing Louisville in the NWSL, USA, opened her goalscoring account at WAFCON 2022 with a goal against Burundi in their second group game and has been key to their attack, running rings around defenders and troubling goalkeepers.
Kgatlana is the second major player to be ruled out of the WAFCON, after record four-time African Player of the Year Asisat Oshoala of Nigeria suffered a Grade 2 Medial Collateral Ligament strain in their opener against South Africa a week ago. She has since left for surgery in Spain.
South Africa face Tunisia in their quarterfinal game on Thursday in Rabat.