Banyana skip­per eyes WC fi­nale

Sunday Tribune - - SPORT - MIH­LALI BALEKA @Mih­lal­ibaleka

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 |

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