Banyana skipper eyes WC finale
WHILE some will be making their debuts at the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) in Ghana from November 17 to December 1, for others this will be their last appearances in the continental showpiece.
Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk, 31, is likely to be among those who’ll be making their exit.
Van Wyk has already been to two of three major tournaments, the Awcon and Olympics Games.
During the squad announcement this week, she expressed her desire to complete the puzzle by qualifying for next year’s World Cup before calling it a day in her international career.
According to her mentor Fran Hilton-smith, Van Wyk will remain one of the country’s football icons, regardless of whether she achieves that feat or not.
Hilton-smith discovered Van Wyk at the age of 13 while playing with males in her hometown of Alberton due to a scarcity of female teams. At 15, she took her to Sweepers, a female football team in Kwathema where she was under the guidance of Joseph Mkhonza, who ensured she made her Banyana debut at 19.
“She’s a true professional,” said.
“Hopefully her last contribution is getting to the World Cup. But even if that doesn’t happen, she has the best development programme in Africa for girls and she’ll continue with that.
“Hopefully, later on she’ll enjoy coaching as that’s something she is also passionate about.”
At the 2012 Awcon, she scored the only goal that sealed their first victory over Nigeria. That strike knocked the Hilton-smith Super Falcons out as Banyana finished second.
Her former teammate, Amanda Dlamini, says what cut her above the rest was her work ethic.
“She would always separate work from her social life,” Dlamini said. “It’s something that is difficult for some today, but Janine always got it right.
“Even during the game or training, you could always see her aggression. But once we were done, she would soften up with the team.”
Dlamini says even before ‘Booth’ took over the captaincy from her in 2013, she had led from the back. But, her main target was to become the first female footballer to ply her trade in America – in the National Soccer Women’s League (NSWL).
She achieved that feat when she signed for Houston Dash in December 2016.
“She was always hungry and not complacent,” Dlamini said.
“She always wanted to write history and become the first to play in America and she did. What made her stand out from the rest is that she had great ambitions and knew what she wanted.”
Fast track 13 years since her debut in 2005 for Banyana, Van Wyk is the most capped national team player in the country for both genders with 153 caps. She ploughs back to those less privileged through the Janine Van Wyk (JVW) Girls’ Football Institution – which also has a team in the Sasol League.
“She’s the greatest female footballer in terms of achievements,” Dlamini said. “I’d like to thank her for being a true example to others.
“I know that she loves playing soccer, and she’ll be emotional if this is the end because she can’t express herself. But she gave her best,’ Dhlamini said. TV GUIDE
JANINE van Wyk prepares to board the flight to Ghana on Friday |