Thembi Kgatlana’s Goal Secures Historic Win for Racing

Banyana Banyana co-captain Thembi Kgatlana scored her first game-winning goal that saw Racing Louisville secure a massive regular season win in the history of the club on Sunday, 3 September 2023. Photo: Thembi Kgatlana (Instagram)

Banyana Banyana co-captain Thembi Kgatlana scored her first game-winning goal that saw Racing Louisville secure a massive regular season win in the history of the club on Sunday, 3 September 2023.

Abby Erceg levelled matters in the 60th minute after Morgan Weaver opened the goal-scoring in the 6th minute. Four minutes later it was the South African superstar Kgatlana who scored the winning goal, stunning Portland Thorns who came into the clash at the summit of the NWSL standings. 

“I was thinking, ‘Can I get a shot? Can I get a shot?’” Kgatlana said. “I knew the minute she was wrong-footed that I needed to strike without hesitation, so I took the shot.”

Erceg, who wore the captain’s arm and in place of the injured Jaelin Howell said: “Everyone is desperate for points – the table is so close – so for the girls to show up the way they did today (Sunday) was unbelievable.” 

“It was at the right time, a huge performance. I haven’t seen us play with that much grit and heart. You can tell that the girls really want it. I said to them before we went out, ‘Our season is on the line. How many games do you want to play? It’s up to us.’ They came out and they showed up.”

On a night where the club needed maximum points the most, Racing where missing four key players; captain Howell, midfielder Savannah DeMelo, veteran Nadia Nadim and one of their greatest performing left back, Carson Pickett. 

This memorable performance earned Kgatlana a Player of the Match award and moves Racing into sixth place, the last spot that qualifies a team for the NWSL playoffs. 

“It shows the potential that we can beat multiple teams,” Racing Louisville FC head coach Kim Björkegren said. “That shows we’re getting closer to the best teams.”

“We still have to win,” Björkegren said, adding the team talked about keeping up its performance in the second half. “And that was the only thing we had in our mind to keep pushing towards the points today, even if it was a tough situation.”

The club has a chance to get another milestone victory in its next match: an NWSL Challenge Cup semifinal in Seattle vs. OL Reign. A win would move Louisville to one within winning the competition.


Photo 1 Caption: Banyana Banyana co-captain Thembi Kgatlana scored her first game-winning goal that saw Racing Louisville secure a massive regular season win in the history of the club on Sunday, 3 September 2023. Photo: Thembi Kgatlana (Instagram)

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