JOHANNESBURG – Aware of their disappointing Fifa Women’s World Cup campaign, Janine van Wyk believes the Cosafa Championship will revive their morale ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers.
Having qualified for the Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016, Banyana Banyana hope to make it a third successive qualification for the world games when they start their qualification rounds against neighbours Botswana later this year.
However coach Desiree Ellis’s troops are enduring somewhat their worst calendar year, having been winless in their last 13 matches.
Three of those defeats were against China, South Korea and Germany during the group stage of their maiden global showpiece last month in France.
With that poor record fresh in their minds, Banyana will be motivated to return to winning ways when they begin their Cosafa Cup defence against Comoros at Wolfson Stadium today (3.30pm).
“It’s very important (to win), especially having failed to do so during the year,” the Banyana captain said.
“(But) not to say, we were not good enough, but we’ve played quality opponents, that made us to be even better. I think we need to show that and produce on the field, especially against teams that are lower ranked than us.
“I think we can use this tournament to get our confidence, winning momentum and attitude of producing results. It won’t be easy but that’s our aim after having been on the back foot for a while.”
Despite islanders Comoros being a few places behind Banyana in the world and continental rankings, Van Wyk is adamant that starting off on the front foot will make their job easier later in the tournament.
“I think women’s football in the world has grown a lot and there’s lots of talent that has come through in every aspect of the teams,” Van Wyk added.
While Banyana will be hoping to use the tournament to fine-tune their team for the Olympic Games qualifiers, they’ll gladly welcome a third Cosafa Championship trophy in a row. In the last edition South Africa won the regional title in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, Port Elizabeth.
And while, the competition returns for a successive year to the Eastern Cape, Ellis will be without her international stars, among them Jermaine Seopsenwe, Linda Motlhalo, Thembi Kgatlana, Nothando Vilakazi, Leandra Smeda, and Rhoda Mulaudzi. This is because the competition runs outside the Fifa dates.
However, seeing newbies Priscilla Pesa (Golden Ladies) Shange Sthembile (Durban Ladies) and Noxolo Cesane (UWC), part of the team excites Van Wyk.
“I think having the confidence of playing at the highest level and coming down, that automatically gives you confidence,” she said.
“And coming here, we know that all eyes are on us because we are defending champions and a World Cup team. And we need to start playing like that.
“The motivation is there for us. There are some new players that didn’t experience the World Cup.’’@Mihlalibaleka