JOHANNESBURG - With all that she has achieved in her playing career, Noko Matlou - the Banyana Banyana striker-turned-defender - doesn’t like being referred to as an overachiever.
And that’s because the 31-year old centre-back who’s already featured in two back-to-back Olympic Games and three Women’s Africa Cup of Nations tournaments still feels there’s that one void she still needs to fill in her footballing career. Matlou still wants to play at the Fifa Women’s World Cup.
That is one dream Matlou let slip from her grasp after Banyana missed out a third place spot at the continental finals, a feat that would have guaranteed them a place in the Canada edition back 2015 after they lost 1-0 to the Ivory Coast. And that’s why the thought of her retiring soon never crosses her mind. It doesn’t have a place there.
“Come to think of it,” Matlou said. “The only thing that’s missing in my playing career is playing at the World Cup. I’ve been in major tournaments such as the Women’s Afcon and two Olympic games but still, there's just one thing that’ still missing in my career. I’ve never been there before. I still want to go and play there one day, though. That would be a dream come true for me.”
Another dream that Matlou wants to realise, is to see her national side winning this year’s Cosafa Women’s Championship. She was part of the team that lost 1-0 to Zimbabwe in the 2011 final.
But to realise that goal, the senior women’s football team will have to overcome the first hurdle in the form of Lesotho in their Group C match at Luveve Stadium on Thuesday (4.30pm).
Matlou, though, also warned that it would be wise for her side not to approach this whole tournament thinking it is going to be a walk in the park for them, as there are other national sides who are also desperate to make a name for themselves by winning this regional title.
“I featured in the last three editions of this tournament where we won it twice but failed to defend it for the third time in a row against Zimbabwe back in 2011,” Matlou said.
“Looking at this current group of Banyana players, we’ll have to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. Things have to be different this time around. We’ll have to go all out and fight to win it, so that to avoid a re-occurrence of what happened in previous years.
“But having said that,” Matlou added. “We all know that this whole process of getting to the final is not going to be easy for anyone. Everybody participating in this tournament really wants it. We‘ll have to work extra hard to be the ones who get it in the end. We take on Lesotho first and we’re also expecting a very difficult match from them. But I’m very confident that win it.”