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Van Wyk hails heroic Banyana Banyana performance
- Updated: July 10, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
Skipper Janine van Wyk celebrated what she described as one of the best performances ever by the Banyana Banyana national women’s football side, despite a narrow 1-0 defeat to the United States on Saturday night.
Banana were facing the world and Olympic champions for the first time ever and put up a gallant performance at the Soldiers Field venue in Chicago.
It was a sole goal from Crystal Dunn in the 35th minute that separated the sides after 90 minutes of battle.
‘I’m still so shocked by the way we handled today’s game,’ Van Wyk told Road to Rio 2016. ‘it was a game that we really thought we’d have so much more pressure put on us but to be honest we faced more pressure in our recent games against the Netherlands.’
’Today we handled the pressure situations really well. I think we’d seen so much video material of their games. so they couldn’t play to the pattern they usually play and we could block those plays out.’
The ‘veteran’ skipper says the result is huge going into their second consecutive Olympic Games.
‘We’ve made a huge step up in our careers and in our football… the experience gained is something incredible
‘As a team we’re really happy even, thought it was a defeat. Just the whole way we performed was one of the best ever. Credit must go to every individual out there on the field tonight and the bench and our coach for preparing for us.’
And she’s confident that the match will see a competitive Banyana at the Olympics next month.
‘We can only get better from here as we go towards to Rio… and hopefully it will show there.
And she had some words of warning for their rivals. ’I think there are going to be some setbacks for some other teams facing us in Rio… they’ll treat us as the world’s 58th ranked side and think it will be a walk in the park.
‘I think that’s what the US were thinking tonight and were underestimating us a bit.’
She concluded by summing up the the atmosphere. ‘It was just incredible, the crowd were amazing, even supporting us when we did well. The whole atmosphere was memorable and me and the guys will cherish this for the rest of our lives.;
As for the match itself, SAFA Media reported from the ground:
From the first whistle the visitors were not overawed by the occasion and went toe to toe with the number one ranked nation in a match watched by 19,272 spectators.
But the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana had some scary moments early on with Julie Johnston just missing an inviting header from a corner kick.
In the 20th minute captain Van Wyk, who was solid in defence throughout the match, blocked a goal-bound shot with South African goalkeeper Roxanne Barker in no-man’s land.
Seven minutes later the visitors were forced to make a substitution after striker Shiwe Nogwanya went down with a suspected broken elbow, and stretchered off the field, with Sanah Mollo taking her place. Nogwanya, however, is recovering well after receiving medical attention.
Van Wyk led from the front, stopping any move from the Americans while at the other end of the field Jermaine Seoposenwe gave the hosts a torrid time in defence.
But Banyana Banyana went to sleep in the 35th minute and Crystal Dunn pounced to give her country a 1-0 nil lead.
The goal seemed to have rattled the South Africans as they could not keep possession and had to double their efforts to keep the attacking USA at bay – with Barker getting in on the action with some fine saves.
At the start of the second half Pauw introduced Nompumelelo Nyandeni for Robyn Moodaly, a move that paid dividends as South Africa slowly got back into the match.
But the visitors had to be alert in the 48th minute when defender Nothando Vilakazi cleared off the line with a header.
A short-while later Lebohang Ramalepe made way for Leandra Smeda as Pauw was sensing an equaliser.
In the 60th minute Amanda Dlamini replaced Linda Motlhalo who had gone off.
Dlamini was making her 100th appearance for South Africa, joining an elite group of Banyana Banyana players – Van Wyk (131), Nyandeni (125), Noko Matlou (124) and the retired Portia Modise (124).
Nyandeni is now the second-highest capped player.
Thembi Kgatlana then entered the fray in place of Seoposenwe and shortly thereafter had the best chance for South Africa to level the scores but did not make use of the opportunity.
Bambanani Mbane was Banyana Banyana’s last substitution as she checked in for Vilakazi with three minutes remaining.
At the end, it was a gallant effort from South Africa as no one gave them a chance to do well against the high-riding USA who haven’t lost a match this year in 13 outings.
While they left Chicago defeated, they were not disappointing in their performance, which augurs well for the 2016 Rio Olympics Games – both teams were using this match to fine tune their plans ahead of those Games.
With this win, the USA continue with their unbeaten record in Chicago, while it was also a special day for their goalkeeper Hope Solo who reached a record 100 clean sheets – a milestone no other goalkeeper, male or female, has ever attained.