They might not have won the continental showpiece, but Banyana Banyana believe they will make an impact at the global competition.
BANYANA Banyana may not have conquered the continent like they’d hoped to, but captain Janine Van Wyk saw a lot in her team’s performance during the African Women’s Nations Cup to believe that South Africa will make an impact at next year’s Fifa World Cup.
“We showed great character, we never gave up. We might not have something to show for it, but I know that to the whole of South Africa and the continent we displayed fantastic and convincing football.
“We are a team that is gonna go to the World Cup to prove a point that women’s football in Africa is really on the rise. And that there is so much talent in Africa,” she emphasised, adding that their preparations are going to have to be top notch.
Van Wyk was speaking just after Banyana had lost 4-3 to perennial African champions Nigeria via the post match shoot-out from the penalty spot in the final of the continental showpiece at the Accra Sports Stadium at the weekend.
Her disappointment at the defeat was soothed somewhat by Banyana’s maiden World Cup qualification as well as the fact that they did not concede a single goal throughout the event.
And from what she saw in Ghana in the past fortnight, Van Wyk is anticipating a good showing by Africa at the Fifa event to be hosted by France.
“We have developed so much as teams. As Banyana we have played a lot of international teams in the past and at the Olympics and I believe the gap between us and the great teams like the USA, England and France is really slim. In the past it used to be very big but now we’re catching up.”
And she urged CAF to work at helping bridge thay gap even further so that Africa can produce a world champion soon.
“More competitions need to be organised for African women. Now we only have the Afcon but if more can be given to us we will be able to compete at the world stage. If CAF need us to compete, they must put that (more tournaments) in place.”
She is in no doubt, however, that Banyana will get all the support they will need for France 2019.
“Right now we need to rest a bit but when it is time for camp everyone will set their minds, body and soul on the World Cup. I know that the association and our sponsors Sasol will prepare us. They will get is quality matches against quality teams to prepare for the World Cup.”
Not that the quality in Ghana was in any way below par. Far from it, for while they had a splendid showing, and were the only team not to lose a match (games decided via shoot-outs are officially deemed draws), Banyana had to dig deep to get to the final – hence their sadness at not being crowned champions.
“Most of us are disappointed because we have done our absolute all to get our hands on the trophy. But deep down I am so proud of every single member of this team for putting up a good fight from the start of the tournament. We were true warriors, leaving everything on the field, being exhausted after every game, but picking ourselves up to go again the next day.
“This team has not lost this whole tournament. Penalties could go either way and unfortunately it did not go our way and that is just how football is, an ugly game sometimes.
“But to me every player and every single member of the technical staff can really hold their heads up; walk really tall with their chest held out because we fought throughout this tournament and given everything we could. To me, this is a winning team.”
They will certainly cement that view by at least making it out of the group stages and into the knockout phase of the World Cup next year.