Janine van Wyk celebrates her 150th Banyana Banyana cap with her teammates. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – She has virtually seen and done it all on a football pitch, but there’s still one burning desire for Banyana Banyana legend Janine van Wyk: Playing at a World Cup.

Van Wyk celebrated her 150th Banyana cap in fine style on Monday as South Africa destroyed Malawi 6-0 at the Cosafa Women’s Championship at the Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

The 31-year-old Van Wyk – who plays for US club Houston Dash – was back in the starting line-up after recovering from her long travel journey.

But while Banyana are keen to defend their Cosafa title, and will face Uganda in the semi-finals on Thursday, Van Wyk is thinking further than that.

“That is my ultimate goal – to qualify for the World Cup – and it is getting closer and closer for us,” she said.

“Before this tournament started, I had a few words with the team. Before the first game against Madagascar, I said to them ‘This is where it starts, this is our preparation for the World Cup’.

“Yes, we are defending champions of this tournament, but for us, we have to look at the bigger picture of the World Cup. We have to start winning here and create a winning mentality.

“We all need to feel that burning fire within us to want to get there.

“There are so many of us who have had many opportunities to get to the World Cup, and failed. And it is about time for us as a country, as Banyana Banyana, to see ourselves at the World Cup.

“So, we are really working hard. We are always there for each other, and show up and work at training. We have a goal of seeing ourselves in France (from June 7-July 7 in 2019).”

The Banyana side shared a cake at the team hotel after the match in honour of Van Wyk’s milestone, and she said that she never thought she would become the most capped South African player – including men – on the international scene.

“It’s been a huge honour for me to come this far. I honestly never thought I would come this far because you never know what could happen along the way,” Van Wyk said.

“I mean, football is a really short-term career, and anything could’ve happened with major injuries, and I have been blessed that I haven’t had any major injuries.

“It’s just been commitment and dedication, and most of all, my passion for the game that has got me this far. Yes, there have been many ups and downs, but those failures and setbacks I’ve had along the way is what motivated me to carry on, and to get the best out of myself.

“So, I’m really proud of myself for getting here, and for the people who have been so supportive in my career – all the coaches… They are the ones who make the decision that I can play.”

 

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