JOHANNESBURG – After fulfilling her ultimate dream of leading Banyana Banyana to their first ever World Cup tournament, captain Janine van Wyk will be hoping to finally beat Nigeria in the final of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) after enduring disappointments in the past.
Banyana will face the Super Falcons at Accra Stadium tomorrow (6pm kick-off).
Van Wyk has a long, bitter-sweet history with the Super Falcons as she made her debut for Banyana Banyana against them in 2005.
In the 2012 Awcon in Equatorial Guinea she scored the only goal that took them to the final after beating the Super Falcons.
However, in the past two editions of the tournament, in 2014 and 2016, the Nigerians avenged their loss as they beat the South Africans in back-to-back semi-finals.
“Obviously, I want to go to France and I can see us getting on the plane, but at the back of our mind there’s Nigeria, another tough battle that lies ahead,” she said.
“It’s something that we closer to in terms of making history. However, since we beat them in the first game of the tournament, it won’t be the same on Saturday.
“We were fresh minded and physically fit but now after four games it will be a tough match for both teams.”
Banyana’s dreams of making the 2014 and 2016 World Cups were eventually dashed by Ivory Coast and Ghana in the third place play-offs.
With age not on their side, Van Wyk indicated that this could be the last opportunity for her and other veterans like Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Noko Matlou and Mamello Makhabane to qualify for the global showpiece.
As a result, coach Desiree Ellis’s troops didn’t disappoint as they grabbed the bull by the horns and opened the tournament with a historic, second victory over the Super Falcons thanks to a solitary strike from Thembi Kgatlana.
Banyana booked their ticket to the global showpiece that will be staged in France next year courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Mali in the semi-finals of the Awcon tournament.
Furthermore, Van Wyk and company will be hoping to emulate Bafana Bafana’s success in 1996 when they won the Afcon and later qualified for their first global showpiece, which was, ironically, also staged in France (in 1998 and won by the host country).
“I don’t how it’s happened the way it has but maybe it’s our time to win the Afcon,” said Van Wyk.
“So there was a two-year difference for them, but for us I think we can kill two birds with one stone in this tournament,” she concluded.@Mihlalibaleka