Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa will not participate in the remaining matches of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, WAFCON, due to an Achilles tendon rupture.
The 26-year-old might be sidelined for more than six months after suffering the injury during Sunday’s 1-0 Group C victory against Botswana.
At the 2018 Wafcon, Atletico Madrid striker Kgatlana led all scorers and was named player of the competition as Banyana Banyana finished second.
“A MRI scan confirmed the complete rupture and unfortunately she’ll be out for the whole tournament,” South Africa team doctor Dr Rodney Mokoka said.
“She’s due for an operation back in South Africa. A comprehensive rehabilitation programme will be in place for her.
“She will start jogging around 12-16 weeks and will return to contact sport after 20-24 weeks.”
Kgatlana, the Confederation of African Football’s Women’s Player of The Year in 2019, is the third big-name player to be ruled out of the rest of the Wafcon finals in Morocco.
Zambia striker Barbra Banda missed out because of gender eligibility issues while Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala has suffered a knee injury.
South Africa won all three group matches and will face Tunisia in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
In February 2018, Kgatlana moved to the United States to join the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League. She was brought in by her former national team coach Vera Pauw. Kgatlana joined her South African teammates Janine van Wyk and Linda Motlhalo in Houston.
Kgatlana made 16 appearances with Houston and she scored 2 goals. Owing to her accepting a move overseas, Kgatlana was waived by the Houston Dash on February 6, 2019.
Kgatlana represented her country at the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations, where she won the Player of the Tournament and was the highest goal scorer. She also represented South Africa at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, where she scored her country’s first goal ever in the tournament.
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