South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana joins Benfica Feminino

Banyana Banyana forward joins from Chinese Super League side Beijing BG Phoenix
South Africa’s forward Thembi Kgatlana celebrates after scoring a goal during the France 2019 Women’s World Cup Group B football match between Spain and South Africa, on June 8, 2019, at the Oceane Stadium in Le Havre, northwestern France. (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)

South Africa’s Chrestinah ‘Thembi Kgatlana’ has joined SL Benfica Feminino for the rest of the season.

The 23-year-old Banyana Banyana international forward was snapped up from Chinese Super League side Beijing BG Phoenix, who she signed for in February 2019.

In a statement on the club’s website, it referred to Kgatlana as “the latest addition to the women’s football team at Benfica,” adding that she leaves China “to wear the Sacred Cloak in the 2019/20 season”.

Speaking on the move, the Confederation of African Football’s 2018 Women’s Player of the Year told Benfica TV:

“I thank the fans for their support. We are in first place in the Championship and I ask that they continue to support us so that at the end of the season we can lift the trophy”.

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“I am very excited to sign for Benfica. I thank the team, the President, and everyone for giving me the opportunity to come to Portugal and Benfica.

“Benfica is a great club in Portugal and known around the world. I have already had the opportunity to see history and records, and for me, it is a great honour to be part of such a great club.”

Kgatlana has been capped 18-times by South Africa and was a key member of the team as they made their debut at last year’s Women’s World Cup in France.

Benfica’s vice-president, Fernando Tavares said they have “very high expectations” of her.

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“We have very high expectations of Thembi. She was considered the best African of the year in 2018, she is a player with very strong characteristics, she is very fast, she can play one or two different positions,” he told the club’s website.

“This acquisition gives Benfica’s attack several new options to add to the ones we already have.”

Kgatlana becomes the fourth player to be signed up by Benfica in the January window, following the acquisition of Júlia Spetsmark, Alana O’Neill and Mimi Asom.

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