By Mark Etheridge
Banana Banyana skipper Janine van Wyk is in upbeat mood ahead of the national senior women’s football side’s second match against Netherlands on Tuesday.
Van Wyk was speaking to Road to Rio 2016 after Banyana had gone down 1-0 to the Netherlands in their first of two friendlies in Waalwijk.
A goal inside the opening 10 minutes of the fixture was the only score of the fixture and the Banyana side, headed for the Rio Olympics later this year, will take great encouragement from this game.
‘The game was a really tough one… our first really tough opponent that we faced in terms of our preparations so far, a really good one.
‘Especially when one considers that they’re ranked 13th in the world and we came out with only a 1-0 defeat.
‘We conceded very early in the match but kept on going strong and we had our own opportunities in front of goal. We created our own chances which is a good sign for us.
‘So overall we’ll definitely take something from this and go into Tuesday’s result hoping to get an even better result, we’ve made a huge step up in terms of experience and this can only mean good things for us going forward to Rio.’
Adding her knowledgeable opinion was head coach Vera Pauw who believes her charges did not disappoint despite the loss.
‘At the start my players were nervous, thinking that The Netherlands is a top country, and didn’t know what to expect. I could see they had too much respect for them but from the moment they felt they could play against them, they got more confident,’ she told the SAFA website.
‘At half time we made a few changes – and this helped us in the second half as it stopped the Dutch team from going forward. They didn’t know how to get behind our defence, and we ended up with better chances. We could have scored at least two goals,’ said Pauw.
She added that there were lessons learnt in preparations for the likes of Sweden, China and Brazil at the Olympics.
‘Of course for us this is a good result, but it’s more about the performance which gave hope for improvement. We only conceded the goal because we did not stick to the game plan – like wrong players in the wall, which closed the view for the goalkeeper. And at this level such things cost you the game, in that sense it was a good learning curve and we cannot afford to make such mistakes. I keep saying, if you don’t make silly mistakes then you stand a good chance against any team,’ added the South African mentor.
Pauw is adamant it will be a completely different game altogether.
‘We have to be honest because the Dutch team did not play all their top players, so Tuesday will not be any easier, in fact it will be harder. But that is good for us to show we can also step up a gear as we go into the Olympics – move from strength to strength. We need to see how we perform when they have their full squad. Today we definitely showed what we are capable of,’ concluded Pauw.