South Africa's heroine Thembi Kgatlana reveals inspiration behind memorable Awcon

The 23-year-old increased her goal tally to three in four games as she powered her side to the last four of the competition

Thembi Kgatlana has revealed that she 'never saw it coming' after winning the Woman of the Tournament and Top Scorer awards at the 2018 African Women Cup of Nations in Ghana.

Kgatlana scored in all group stage matches for Banyana Banyana, including the winner against Nigeria, to finish as tournament's top scorer with five goals and secured the Player of the Tournament award.

The 22-year-old, whose strike against Mali sent Banyana to a first-ever Women's World Cup insists that she will continue to remember the awesome memories. 

"I think that this time around I was more hungry. The hunger that I had, I kept it for this tournament," Kgatlana told Goal.

"I couldn't get a lot of playing time at my club [Houston Dash]. Before the tournament, I said to myself, why won't I use the Awcon to prove my worth because there, I will get a game time and help the team to qualify for the World Cup. 

"Truly speaking, I never saw this coming. I just came to this tournament to enjoy but most importantly, I am very proud that South Africa after 20 years managed to qualify for the Women's World Cup. 

"We've always been a threat at the Africa Women Cup of Nations, playing good football and create chances but this year,  people were amazed to see that South Africa went beyond measures, preparing very well with a lot of friendlies and in tournaments like the Cyprus Cup and Cosafa Cup."

Having finished behind Asisat Oshoala in the Africa Women Player of the Year 2017 race, she further admitted that was part of the motivation behind her breathtaking performance.

"I think losing the African Women Player of the Year award 2017 also did inspire me to do well in Ghana. I told myself that I played well in 2017 but as people, we set goals for ourselves - we lose some and win other but the opportunity passed me but this time. 

"I continued working hard, not only to make the Caf awards but to really grow personally as a player because it was my first as a professional player and I have seen a lot of positive things. 

"Being a professional player really help 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.

"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."

Kgatlana will be hoping to beat holder Oshoala in the race to Africa's Women Player of the Year 2018 after helping South Africa earn a historic qualification to the Fifa Women's World Cup.