Thembi Kgatlana cleared to play in US after long injury lay-off

After being cleared by the SA Football Association’s (Safa) chief medical officer Thulani Ngwenya, Banyana Banyana dribbling wizard Thembi “Pikinini” Kgatlana will be flying out of Mzansi on Friday to join her new teammates at Racing Louisville in Kentucky, USA.

Kgatlana has been suffering from a lengthy injury she picked up during the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Morocco in July 2022. There were also fears that she may not recover in time for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“She has been discharged from the orthopod and from all the medical people,” Ngwenya told a media conference at the Safa House recently.

“We have been in constant contact with her team in the US and they are happy with what we have been doing. She has done something remarkable and is ready to play again. I can guarantee that she will be available for World Cup selection.”

Kgatlana opened up to the Safa website: “I can’t wait to meet with my new teammates at Kentucky, but I am still going through rehabilitation from the Achilles tendon injury. I am close to full healing, at the moment I am running and trying to get to full fitness.

Kgatlana has signed a two-year contract with Racing Louisville.

Safa president Danny Jordaan said he is delighted that Kgatlana is finally travelling to Kentucky to resume her career after a long injury lay-off.

“We as Safa are very happy with Thembi’s progress and we are delighted that she is returning to the playing field. We would like to wish her all the best in the United States, as she embarks on this chapter of her career,” Jordaan said.

Kgatlana shared that she has missed playing and applauded her Kentucky side for being helpful since she picked up an injury. “The club [Racing Louisville] has been very helpful and for that I want to applaud them,” she was quoted as saying in the website.

Before joining Racing Louisville, Kgatlana played for Spanish giants Atletico Madrid, Eibar in Spain, Benfica in Portugal, Beijing Phoenix in China and Houston Dash, among others.

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