Thembi Kgatlana still haunted by missing out on Olympic qualification

Thembi Kgatlana still haunted by missing out on Olympic qualification

Banyana Banyana forward Thembi Kgatlana says missing out on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games still remains a hard moment for her.

The African Champions were knocked out by bitter rivals Nigeria at the last hurdle after the West Africans won the first leg 1-0, and it ended goalless in the reverse fixture – thus failing to make it to the global competition for the second time in a row after missing out on Tokyo 2020.

After experiencing the atmosphere at the 2016 Games, Kgatlana says she was hopeful of another appearance at the tournament, more so because Banyana Banyana have been doing so well over the last few years.

"That moment still feels like it was yesterday, not being able to qualify for the Olympics. I was in the team that qualified for the Olympics in 2015 through the qualifiers to go to Rio in 2016. Then I was injured in 2019 so I couldn't come to join Banyana for the qualifiers for the Olympics, we missed out on Tokyo 2020,” Kgatlana said.

“I think I was looking forward to going back to the Olympics. I mean everyone wants to play at the biggest stage but I think for me I was disappointed that we couldn't qualify now, back-to-back we've missed out on the Olympics. The moment was very harsh and hard to take after Banyana having so many successes over the last years."

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The Mexico-based Kgatlana agrees with the notion that it is time to rebuild the Banyana Banyana squad, and this has perhaps become more appropriate after CAF on Friday night postponed the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, where South Africa are the defending champions, to a year later.

Kgatlana and several regulars were left out of the squad that played Senegal away in friendly matches.

"To rebuild or start talking about rebuilding is a good thing because some of the current players that are with Banyana probably won't be there when 2027 comes for whatever reason and I think when we talk about rebuilding and starting to make sure that we have a squad that is decent to work upon, it's going to help us. So that we can get ready in preparation for the World Cup."