The South African Football Association [SAFA] has congratulated Banyana Banyana duo of coach Desiree Ellis and forward Thembi Kgatlana on winning their respective Coach and Player of the Year awards at the CAF awards ceremony held in Dakar, Senegal on Tuesday evening.

Ellis and Kgatlana were rewarded for a stellar year for Banyana Banyana, where they retained their Cosafa Cup title and finished as runners-up to champions Nigeria in the Women’s Afcon last year. Their biggest achievement from 2018, though, was them qualifying for the World Cup in France in June this year for the first time in their history.

Kgatlana was recognised for an outstanding year as she finished as the top goal scorer at the Afcon Women’s tournament, finding the back of the opposition net on five occasions, including one against Nigeria in the opening game of the group stage, a goal that was also voted as the goal of the year at the awards in Dakar.

Acting Safa chief executive Russel Paul congratulated the pair, saying that their achievements have made the country proud.

Desiree Ellis
Desiree Ellis
“On behalf of the Safa president Dr Danny Jordaan, the Safa NEC, the entire Safa membership and staff, I take this opportunity to congratulate you both on a wonderful achievement in recognition of your efforts during 2018!”

“For you coach Ellis, the CAF Women’s Coach of the Year award must take pride of place in your years of commitment to the game, as you served your country with pride and distinction as a player, and you have carried this forward now as a coach from the touchlines. What makes your award special is the fact that you competed as the only female against male counterparts and came out on top.”

“You have certainly showed true resilience in your efforts to make Banyana Banyana a force to be reckoned with on the continent, and in a very short time now, you will have the opportunity to pit your skills against some of the best on the biggest stage of women’s football, the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.”

“As for you Thembi, you are making the world your playing field, as you continue to score awards recognizing your talent at every level and facet of the game. The CAF Goal of the Year must rank as an extremely special one, in that your strike competed in an open category against many seasoned male campaigners. Your eye for the gap and your nifty speed has made you an elusive striker, causing havoc for many a defense.”

“As for the CAF Women’s Player of the Year award, this crowns a glorious year for you too, as you raked in many Player of the Match awards throughout the year, and bears testament to your consistency on the field of play! Your acceptance speech surely touched the hearts of many young South African females, as you provided further motivation for them to follow in your not so easy side steps.”

Source: Philasande Sixaba