By Mark Etheridge
A memorable two weeks in the life of Banyana Banyana skipper Janine van Wyk were capped when the national women’s football side qualified for next year’s Rio Olympics.
Last weekend saw her being named Sports Personality at the Gauteng Sports Awards and Sunday’s 1-0 win away win over Equatorial Guinea means she can start practising her Portuguese ahead of next year’s trip to Brazil.
She spoke to Road to Rio 2016 after arriving back in the early hours of Monday morning.
‘Yes I’m super stoked about our Olympic qualification,’ she said excitedly of the match won by Jermaine Seoposenwe’s second half strike. ‘The team did exceptionally well yesterday – every single player played her heart out and together we have come out victorious.
‘In the first half of the match they came out really strong, throwing everything they had at us but we managed to absorb the pressure and went into half time goalless.’
And there were some strong words from coach Dutch-born coach Vera Pauw (picture above with goalscorer Seoposenwe) at half time as she stressed the importance of what victory would bring.
‘Coach Vera really got us really fired up for the second half. It was like we were a completely different team that played, we dominated play and our opponents couldn’t put five touches together through the pressure we put on every ball.’
Talking about the breakthrough in the 62nd minute, Van Wyk went on to say: ‘It was a phenomenal through ball by Amanda Dlamini to Jermaine who finished in style which put us ahead.
‘We knew that this was our moment! We fought for every ball and cleared anything close to our goal. Roxanne Barker pulled off a fantastic save from a free kick and that just gave me that extra bit of faith that they weren’t going to score!
‘When the final whistle blew we were jumping and singing and screaming with joy!! We did it, we did it. The atmosphere amongst the team is something I’ve never felt before so I’m absolutely proud of the whole team!’
What next for Van Wyk and her triumphant team-mates?
‘Well we now have a slight break until further notice so I’m definitely going to take some time to celebrate!’
Picture by Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix