“Run Thembi, run!” Motlhomola Kgatlana shouts at the TV remote control in hand as he watches his daughter on TV run past the Swedish defense to fire a shot at the goalkeeper.
The goalkeeper parried a fierce shot by Thembi teammate Hilda Magia, who kicked it in in the 48th minute of the match.
The Kgatlana family, including Thembi’s mother Koko, her uncle Thabo Moche and her older brother Tomelo Masinga, all stood up and rushed towards the TV in a huge celebration at their modest home in Mohlaking, West Rand, on Sunday morning.
The hall was decorated with four signed football jerseys of the teams Thembi played for. A corner of the house displayed the Banana forward’s 20+ trophies won in her career.
The smell of freshly baked biscuits and cups of tea wafted through the hall rounds as the match built in intensity with the Swedes girls side pressing Banana by using their height to force SA goalkeeper Kaelin Swart.
Thembi had two more chances to put Baniana ahead but held the ball long and missed the chance to pass to her team mates.
“There is no one, where are the support players,” Tomelo said, waving his hand in front of the screen, as he watched his sister feint her effort as Swedish goalkeeper Zisera Mosović comfortably collected the ball.
Sweden came back in the second half to score the equaliser, which put pressure on Banjana to defend for the remainder of the match before Sweden shattered SA’s dreams in the final minutes of the match by scoring the winning goal.
The girls have so much potential, said Motlhomola, the proud father. “All is not lost and we are still proud that they have withstood a team that is ranked third in the entire world. The father said.
Matoush said that the rise of the Swedish team gave them an advantage that made them get 13 corner kicks. “They are too long. Baniana needs to stop making long passes,” said Uncle Baniana.
Having spoken to his daughter days before she left for the World Cup earlier this month, Mutlhumola was proud and happy for the team regardless of their loss.
“I told my daughter to go there and play hard. This is a big league and I told her to play hard and smart and she did just that. Even though she lacked support, the girls still made an impact. We are now looking forward to the game against Argentina on Friday and I know we will beat them,” Mutlhumola said, holding tea in one hand and a biscuit in the other.
After bidding him farewell at the airport, Cgatlana’s brother Tomelo sighed, looking at the screen, “I remember telling her to play with her heart and hard. She represents all of us and she represented us well, she helped achieve that goal. It’s not a loss, Argentina is next.”