Banyana captain Van Wyk on the Equatorial Guinea game... and more | SASCOC - SASCOC

Banyana captain Van Wyk on the Equatorial Guinea game… and more

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 20: Janine van Wyk during the Banyana Banyana media open day at AW Muller Stadium on May 20, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images)

Banyana Banyana are back in camp on Monday as the national women’s football side start preparations for the crucial 2016 Rio Olympic clash against Equatorial Guinea.
The two nations lock horns in Tembisa, Gauteng on Saturday with kick-off at 3pm. The second leg will be played in a fortnight in Equatorial Guinea.
Skipper Janine van Wyk and the team are back from the African Games in Brazzaville, Congo where they drew both their games, against Cameroon (1-1) and Ghana (0-0).

The SAFA website caught up with Van Wyk ahead of the Equatorial Guinea game.

Welcome back, how was Congo?
‘It was good, it was actually a massive experience for us to go there. We knew that we were going there for a reason – to prepare for the main one, which is the Olympic qualifier against Equatorial Guinea. We had two tough opponents in our group, Cameroon and Ghana and they did not make it any easier for us. But I think we did very well and I’m happy with the way we displayed our football. While we are disappointed by not qualifying for the semi-finals, I believe playing those tough opponents has helped us prepare well. We now have to focus on our next game, the big task that is the Olympic qualifier. I know the players have put that behind them and looking forward to Equatorial Guinea, hopefully we will get a good result at home and also when we play the return leg away.’

It must have been disappointing to lose through the drawing of lots?
‘Yes, it was very much so. When we saw the Ghana name drawn out it was very heartbreaking because we know that if we had qualified for the semi-finals we would have had a good chance of getting to the final and returning with a gold medal. But we have put it behind us, we are just glad we had a good preparation. We stayed together for longer and this past week we had a break. Now we back in camp and hard work starts again.’

Next up is Equatorial Guinea, looking forward to it?
‘Yes we are hungry to face them. We know what they are about. We know their strengths and weaknesses. We are playing at home first, which is a bit difficult because we have to do well and avoid conceding at all costs as we know how difficult it will be away. It’s a tough battle ahead of us no doubt, and a good result at home will give a good advantage in the second leg.’

Personally, you have been nominated for two awards.
‘I’m really privileged and honoured to be nominated for two awards in one month. I believe I’m finally being rewarded for my hard work and effort I have been putting throughout the years and I have waiting patiently for this to happen. What took me by surprise is that they come as a pair in just a short space of time. The disappointing part is that I won’t be attending any of those awards ceremonies because of national team commitments.’

And what are those awards?
‘The first one is the Africa News Network (ANN7) South African of the Year (SATY) Awards. The SATY Awards seek to celebrate extraordinary South Africans, who are making a difference in the lives of ordinary people. Here I’m the only female nominated in the category of Sportsperson of the Year and will be up against AB de Villiers [cricket], Duane Vermeulen [rugby], Gift Kelehe [road running], Schalk Burger [rugby], Tefu Mashamaite, Teko Modise [both football]. It’s a big thing for me to compete with these great athletes. In the second, I have been nominated in the Gauteng Sports Personality of the Year – this is something huge for me because normally I would be in the Sports Woman of the Year category, so this is a major one.’

Janine, win or lose this is a great achievement?
‘Yes most definitely. Being recognised and nominated for such awards is something extraordinary for any athlete because as an athlete you want to be recognised for everything you do for yourself or your country or your province and so I’m very pleased with the way things are going. But just being a nominee is something huge for me. There are so many athletes who are very talented, who give their all day in day out, and who could be in the same spot as I am but I am one of the few who has been nominated and it is honestly a great honour. It’s quite heart-warming that there are people out there who recognise me for what I do on and off the field, and I’m really pleased about all of this.’