/ 27 May 2021

Kgatlana eclipses Benni McCarthy’s Spanish record

Spain V South Africa: Group B 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup France
Shining: Thembi Kgatlana is a rising star on the international football scene. (Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

South Africa’s most prolific striker in the Spanish topflight league, Thembi Kgatlana, has eclipsed Uefa Champions League winner Benni McCarthy’s record of eight goals, which he raked up while playing for Celta de Vigo in 2003.

The SD Eibar forward has 10 goals and five assists this season. She has been praised by her head coach, Ike Dorronsoro, for her consistent efforts on the pitch after she scored her ninth goal in 18 appearances.

In July last year, she joined Eibar from SL Benfica and has broken records in just 20 appearances for her new home. 

“She is the benchmark player for us. There’s a lot of talk about her and I think that’s good for both her and the team. She is a benchmark player, not only because of the goals she scores,” Dorronsoro said in February.

In a virtual conference, Kgatlana said she is not in a rush to join a bigger team that features in the Champions League.

“I am very hungry to play in the Champions League, but I am not going to rush it because, when it happens, I want it to be worth it.

“At this stage, it’s time for me to showcase my talent and when the timing is perfect and there’s a team who plays in the Champions League that want me, I will go.”

The 25-year-old, who is in her maiden season in Spain, spoke of South African players’ struggle to join top European clubs.

“I think for a South African, or any other African player, it’s a bit tough at the start because we don’t really have strong leagues in our countries.

“So, there are a lot of restrictions in Europe when it comes to getting quality African players into big teams. You really have to have a good profile. You have to be outstanding for teams to be aware of you. You have to play two or three seasons in Europe before big teams can see that you’re good enough.” — gsport