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Thembi Kgatlana aims debut Women's World Cup statement in France

1:10 PM GMT 09/01/2019
After being named African women's best, the 22-year-old South African is hoping for another breakthrough at this summer's showpiece

Thembi Kgatlana is hoping to excel at the 2019 Women's World Cup as she eyes her first ever global stage appearance this summer in France.

The 22-year-old had an outstanding year in 2018 as she dusted off the challenge from Nigerian duo of Asisat Oshoala and Francisca Ordega to be crowned African Women's Player of the Year as well as the African Goal of the Year on Tuesday in Dakar.

Last December, Kgaltana, who clinched top scorer gong with five goals and emerged tournament's Most Valuable Player, inspired Banyana Banyana to a second-place finish at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations as well as a first ever Women's World Cup ticket.

And the Houston Dash forward has credited her family, coaches, teammates and people of South Africa for the awards, while dedicating it to aspiring female footballers in her country.

"I am truly honoured and privileged to receive the awards in front of legends and prestigious people," Kgatlana told Goal.

"I will like to dedicate this award to every female player in South Africa who is about to start their careers and all the girls that want to become champions, this is for you.

"I want to appreciate my family, my teammates, coaches and all who have played a role in my life to get this far. I want to continue working hard, not only to make the Caf awards again but to really grow personally as a player. As a professional player, I have seen a lot of positive things.

"Being a professional player is really helping me because I get to play week in week out, train every day and be competitive and when I come back to the national team going to the Women's World Cup.

"It helps me and grows my confidence as a player that whatever I learn from my club and I can give back to my country. I will be happy to help my country alongside my teammates do well in France."

After missing out on the award in 2017, the accolades look to finally rewards her impressive year with Banyana Banyana, having also won the Most Valuable Player at the 2018 Cyprus Cup as she looks forward to another enterprising 2019.

The former Randfontein-born player will be hoping to repeat her stellar performance at the 2019 Cyprus Cup, COSAFA Cup, Women's World Cup, All African Games as well as with Houston Dash when the new National Women Soccer League resumes in April.