Skipper has World Cup in sights

Banyana need to feel burning desire for top contest, says Van Wyk

Banyana Banyana stalwart Janine van Wyk made her 150th international appearance when the side beat Malawi in their final Group A game at the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship on Monday. Van Wyk is already the most capped South African footballer in both men’s and women’s football‚ but reached the new milestone as she kicked-off what she hopes will be a massive 12 months with qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup on the line.

Banyana Banyana skipper Janine van Wyk wants to lead her teammates to the women’s World Cup in France next year.

Van Wyk, 31, earned her 150th cap for the national team when they beat Malawi 6-0 in the last group match of the Cosafa Women’s Championship this week.

Speaking about her milestone, the defender, who is based in Texas and plays for Houston Dash, said: “It’s been a huge honour for me to come this far. I honestly never thought I would come this far, because you never know what will happen along the way.

“Football is a very short career and anything could have happened. I have really been blessed that I have never had any major injuries.”

The defender said it was her commitment, dedication, and most of all her passion for the game that had helped her get this far in soccer.

Born in Alberton, Van Wyk grew up in Germiston in Gauteng where she started playing soccer at the age of six. Her first team was Springs Home Sweepers, based in KwaThema.

“Yes, there have been many ups and downs but those failures and setbacks that I have had along the way are what has motivated me to carry on and get the best out of myself,” Van Wyk said.

“I am really proud of myself for getting here with the people that have been supportive in my career, plus all the coaches who have coached me because they are the ones who make decisions for me to play.

“My ultimate goal is to qualify for the World Cup and it is really getting closer. Before the [Cosafa] tournament started I had a few words with the team. With our very first game against Madagascar I told the players this is where it starts, this is our preparation for the World Cup.

“Yes we are defending champions of this tournament but we have to look at the bigger picture which is the World Cup. If we start winning here and create the winning mentality that is where it will get us to.

“We all need to feel that burning fire within to want to get there.

“It is about time for us, for this country and for Banyana Banyana to see ourselves at the World Cup.”

Van Wyk said Banyana had been working around the clock and there was a spirit of togetherness in the team.

Coach Desiree Ellis applauded Van Wyk’s achievement.

“It takes a lot of character, determination, willpower and effort to get to 100 or 50 caps, never mind 150 caps,” Ellis said.

“Janine has been a model professional in carrying herself, always being in front, leading from the front and always putting her best foot forward.

“She has always been first at training, been at training when we didn’t even have training and got herself ready for the game, and in that way she motivates others.

“Janine has stood out in dire situations at times for Banyana Banyana. So, I think it’s really well deserved.”