JOHANNESBURG – Refiloe Jane may be the most successful captain in the last three Cosafa Championship, but she is adamant that it took a team effort to reach such an incredible milestone.
On Sunday, Jane captained Banyana Banyana to a record sixth Cosafa title in the last seven finals. Add to the fact that it was Banyana’s third consecutive title, achieved through a 1-0 victory over Zambia in the final at Isaac Wolfson Stadium.
On a personal note, that was Jane’s second recent triumph with the national team as captain in the last three years, having aced the same role in 2017 respectively.
Jane, who is the national team’s vice-captain replaced injured skipper Janine van Wyk, dished out impressive displays for her team in Port Elizabeth as she scored five goals from as many matches.
Moreover, it was yet another impressive contribution from second vice-captain Lebohang Ramelepe down the right flank, picking up where she left off during the Women’s World Cup. But Jane maintains that they have achieved the impossible due to the team’s overall contribution.
“Such remarks, it’s something that one never looks into, as long as you are fit throughout the tournament and remain in the coach’s plans,” Jane said.
“As long as you are tasked to deliver, you should deliver. Having to play all the matches non-stop, including previous matches, we were the only two players to feature for all 90 minutes. It’s never easy and it’s difficult on the body, but whenever you have a great team behind you, everything then becomes easy.
It’s all about team work, we lift each other up. If one can go, we are there to push them behind.”
Considering the South Africans used the regional tournament to reinvigorate their energy and winning formula following a 13-game winless streak before - which included three defeats in the group stage of the World Cup - they’ll have to give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done.
Moreover, Banyana got a chance to fine-tune their final preparations for the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers against Botswana, who they will play away on August 30 in the first leg.
“This tournament was very important for the team, considering that we are also preparing for the (Olympic) qualifiers against neighbours against Botswana. They were not part of the tournament, so we have not seen them in the action for a long while. So, we don’t know what they’ll bring, but we always have to be on top of our game all the time.
We’ve taken some lessons from this tournament, we want to ensure that by the time we play them, we are fully able to capitalise and wrap up the first round of the preliminary Olympics Games’ qualifiers,” Jane said.
While the South Africans will face Botswana in three weeks’ time, Jane is crossing her fingers that all the team’s players continue to churn out the best for Banyana, especially with their attacking contingent still lacking composure in front of goal.
Despite that being a work in progress, Banyana worked as a team with Jane and Amanda Mthandi scoring five goals apiece.@Mihlalibaleka