"Football is beyond Nigeria", red-hot Kgatlana declares ahead of Awcon final

Exclusive: The tournament leading scorer looks ahead to Saturday’s final against the Super Falcons

South Africa striker Thembi Kgatlana is poised for Saturday’s Africa Women Cup of Nations final against rivals Nigeria, saying Banyana Banyana will be playing for the pride of the nation.

The two teams are set to rekindle their rivalry at the Accra Sports Stadium, 13 days after a Cape Coast meeting in their opening game of the tournament.

“I don’t think we have much expectations. We’ve got nothing to lose,” Kgatlana, who scored the lone goal of the first fixture, told Goal.

“We definitely worked hard to get to the final. It’s going to be a tough one against Nigeria.

“We played them in the first group match of the tournament. The final is going to be a different ball game.

“They’ll want to play for their pride because they wouldn’t want South Africa to beat them twice. But it’s the final and it’s for anyone. It’s there for the taking.”

Having fallen 1-0 in the opener, eight-time champions and cup holders Nigeria are under immense pressure to turn things around. For Kgatlana, that the Super Falcons have a title to defend will work in her team’s favour.

“I don’t think we’re under any pressure to win. Nigeria are the ones under pressure because they need to defend their title,” said, the Houston Dash ace.

“We’ve accomplished what we came to accomplish which is to qualify for the World Cup. Getting to the final is good for us, especially for our confidence. And we’re looking forward to that.

“Scared is not the word I’ll use [to describe our state]. We’re not scared of them because we showed that football is beyond Nigeria and we’re able to beat Nigeria when we have a good team.

“I don’t think we’re going there with the aim of beating them. Our aim is to play for the pride of the nation.”

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On individual level, Kgatlana is having the tournament of her life, having already hit five goals going into the final. Her tally leaves her as the current top scorer.

“I’m not surprised about my performance,” the 22-year-old revealed.

“I’m just overwhelmed to see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown. It’s something that the team needed and I was there to score the goals.