Ahead of the Total Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) final game against the Super Falcons of Nigeria, captain of the Banyana Banyana of South Africa Janine Van Wyk spoke to the media about their first ever world cup qualification and Saturday’s final.
On how it feels to qualify for the World Cup for the first time ever “I can’t tell you exactly how it feels because the emotions I felt we’re unreal, something that not many people will experience,” she began.
“It’s just been incredible waking up every morning since we qualified knowing we’re going to be in France next year competing at the world stage against the world’s best players and teams.
“It is also a proud feeling because we’ve worked so hard for this and not just throughout the year but on many occasions that we’ve lost out on qualifying for the World Cup and finally our dream has come true so we’re extremely happy,” Van Wyk said.
To the business of Saturday “It’s not going to be an easy game for both teams,” she said. “Obviously in the first game we beat Nigeria in the group stage but we were motivated and had fresh legs and fresh minds.
“Not saying we are not motivated now but both teams have played numerous games in the tournament so it’s 90mins of pushing through and it’s for either team to lift the trophy on Saturday.”
Talking about freshness the Super Falcons of Nigeria played 120 mins and penalties while South Africa were able to wrap things up against Mali in regulation time but Van Wyk insists that is doesn’t mean anything going into Saturday’s encounter.
“I don’t think we have a slight edge, I think we’re pretty equal. They stayed here (Accra) after the game to rest while we had to travel two and half hours (from Cape Coast) to get here (Accra). So we’re fatigued too and it’s going to come down to our mindset, how bad both teams want it so it’s going to be a heated game and the battle of who wants it the most.”
She however agreed that the group stage win over Nigeria has given them some kind of confidence and that the defending champions can be beaten.
“We have confidence as a team right now and with the kind of football we’ve displayed throughout the tournament we haven’t lost a game. So we have that confidence behind us and we know that Nigeria is a beatable team.
“We’ve done it and we can do it again but like I said before 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, we just have to play the game very smart because our legs is not going to carry us fully 100% for 90 mins. So it’s just going to be all about how much we want it in our minds,” she added.
The captain then spoke on the departure of vice captain, Refiloe Jane to her club in Australia. “Refiloe Jane is a key player and she’s very experienced, one to be missed in the squad but we have to look at other players who have been preparing just as much as she has.
“Every player is capable of doing the job but we will miss her experience on the field,” she reiterated.