Captain of South Africa’s senior women national football team Janine Van Wyk says Banyana Banyana can defeat the Super Falcons of Nigeria in Saturday’s Women Africa Cup of Nations final because “we’ve done it and we can do it again”.
Nigeria and South Africa will tussle for the right to be champions of Africa when they take to the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday, 1 December 2018 in the final of the continental football showpiece for women and having defeated the Falcons in their very first group match, Van Wyk says her unbeaten side is capable of repeating the feat in the final although she acknowledges that a repeat victory for Banyana Banyan would require mental fortitude.
“I mean we are confident as a team right now with the football we have displayed at the tournament,” she told busybuddiesng.com, “we haven’t lost a game in the tournament so we have confidence behind us and we know that Nigeria is a beatable team.”
“We’ve done it before and we can do it again but it’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be like it was in the first game, you’ll see some tired bodies out there and we just have to play the game very smart as [our] legs might not carry us one hundred per cent for ninety minutes so it’s going to be how much we want it in our minds.”
South Africa’s group stage victory over the Falcons was a first since 2012 when incidentally, Van Wyk struck the winner in a one-nil semi-final triumph over the Falcons in Equatorial Guinea. They would go on to lose that final – the third in their history – to hosts Equatorial Guinea. There are suggestions, however, that South Africa could finally lift the much-coveted trophy by virtue of having fresher legs than Nigeria who might be plagued by the mental and physical exertions of 120 minutes of football against a very difficult Cameroon side in the semi-final.
Van Wyk, however, disagrees that South Africa might have an advantage going into the final, pointing out that Banyana Banyana have also had to endure travelling long distances throughout the tournament.
“I don’t think we have a slight edge I think we pretty equal,” she says, “they stayed here after the game to rest we had to travel two and a half hours to get here.
“So I think it’s pretty equal after they played 120 minutes against a strong opponent Cameroon. We have fought really hard throughout the tournament, I think we are probably the team that’s travelled up and down almost every town I think four times we have travelled up and down and so we fatigued as well.”
South Africa have endured a tortuous wait for a maiden berth at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, often falling short in the most agonising manner more often than not to Nigeria. Securing qualification to the 2019 World Cup in France was such a historic feat that Van Wyk said filled the team with an “incredible and proud feeling” that “finally our dream has come true”.
For the veteran Van Wyk who is South Africa’s most capped player and is in line to earn a 159th cap against Nigeria in the final, it has been a fulfilling journey with the national team and one she isn’t keen on putting a stop to just yet.
“It’s been a long journey for me,” she says.
“I’ve been with the national team for 13 years and it’s always been my dream to participate in a World Cup. I think I’ve reached and accomplished most of my dreams that I set out for myself when I was young and that’s now the World Cup dream and after that who knows maybe I’ll give it another shot for the Olympics 2020, maybe I’ll call it a day we’ll see how I feel after the World Cup.”