CAPE TOWN – Janine van Wyk has a penchant for decorating her right arm with ink every time she heads off to a major tournament.
None, though, will be bigger than Banyana Banyana’s maiden journey to the Fifa World Cup in France later this year.
“Of course, I am going to get one (a tattoo)” she joked with the media ahead of tonight's Albertina Sisulu Challenge friendly against Sweden.
Although the match has historical significance - just like last Saturday’s Winnie Madikizela- Mandela Challenge tie against Netherlands - it is of critical importance to Banyana’s preparations for the showpiece event in June.
Banyana don’t often play against such highly-ranked opposition, and need to exploit every minute of game time in order to fine-tune their plans.
Already they learnt against the Dutch that each player needs to be fully focused for the entire 90 minutes and be switched on immediately at kickoff.
Final training session for @Banyana_Banyana before facing Sweden in the #AlbertinaSisuluCentenaryChallenge on Tuesday at 7pm at the @CapeTownStadium @SAFA_net @SasolLeague @SasolSA #limitless #SAvsSWEDEN pic.twitter.com/a4r3HJk8hB— Banyana_Banyana (@Banyana_Banyana) January 21, 2019
“I think we put up a good performance and played some good football. It is a pity we conceded so early,” Van Wyk told Independent Media. “I am glad we have these preparations so we can learn from our mistakes. We need to keep the winning momentum and not only against the African teams but also the big European teams.”
Van Wyk played down suggestions that nerves played it’s part - looking down at the tattoos on her arm depicting the Sydney Olympics in 2000 among others - for the team’s slow start against the Dutch, particularly with a larger number of Banyana players now playing overseas and also recently having been involved in the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations final in Ghana.
“I think these players are used to such big games and big competitions. We know that all eyes are on us. I don’t think its nerves, it’s just concentration,” she said. “We used to concede lots of goals from set pieces before, especially defending set pieces and we have worked on that.
“Now it is just another challenge that we have before us that we need to focus and keep our concentration and attack from the word go and not sit back.”
. @Banyana_Banyana captain Janine van Wyk is unlikely to play against Sweden on Tues at @CapeTownStadium due to a groin strain. She missed training today after she was taken off against Netherlands. Busisiwe Ndimeni has been ruled out vs Sweden because of a calf muscle strain pic.twitter.com/ya50E57w8x— Banyana_Banyana (@Banyana_Banyana) January 21, 2019
Van Wyk, though, added that Banyana will stick to their deep-lying approach against the Swedes for it favours their mode of attack.
“If you play against a strong opponent, especially the Netherlands who have pacy forwards. When you sit deep, you can obviously analyse a team better and plan accordingly,” she added.
“We don’t sit deep because we don’t want to attack. We sit deep so that we don’t allow the opposition space behind us. If you sit deep it is harder for the team to break you down, rather than giving them space to play. It will probably be a bit similar against Sweden.”@ZaahierAdams