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BANYANA STAR VAN WYK BRINGS CURTAIN DOWN ON ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER

 Banyana Banyana star Janine Van Wyk brought the curtain down on her illustrious career in spectacular fashion this week when she broke the African record for the most caps and in the process also helped the South African senior women’s national team secure qualification to the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The African champions qualified for next year’s WAFCON in Morocco after beating Burkina Faso 2-0 (3-1 on aggregate) at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Monday (4 December 2023) afternoon. The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw in Côte d’Ivoire a few days ago and coach Desiree Ellis’ charges completed the task on Monday, courtesy of goals from Linda Mothlalo and Nicole Michael.

Van Wyk was deservedly given a standing ovation by her colleagues after earning her 185th cap and breaking the record for the most caps (men and women) on the continent that was held by Egypt legend Ahmed Hassan for over a decade.

“It wouldn’t have been a joyful one without a win and qualifying for another WAFCON. It was not about me but the whole team. Yes, we celebrate the 185 caps, but we had a very important match coming here and we knew it was not going to be an easy one, especially after drawing away from home,” Van Wyk said.

“Overall, this has been the cherry on the cake after a great career for me, and a great moment for me reaching this milestone. What better way to do it with the national team at home. It has been a long journey with Banyana Banyana. There have been many of ups and downs, but these are the moments that one strives for and to achieve every single dream that you have planned out for yourself from a young age, and just reaching this last one is a great fulfilment for me. So thank you for all the support.”

Ellis wished Van Wyk well after the many achievements and heights she has scaled during an illustrious career. “I want to say congratulations to Janine after a long career. I think this is well-deserved. She has given her all and always wore her heart on the sleeve,” the coach said. “This couldn’t have happened to a more deserving player. Good luck and welcome to the space. It is not easy but we wish you all the best and hopefully your coaching career can be as successful as your playing career.”

SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan hailed Van Wyk, describing the roving defender as one of a kind.

“You will never find another Janine van Wyk again and I want to express the country’s appreciation for all the entertainment she provided during her long stint with Banyana Banyana,” the SAFA President said.

“We relish the great moments she provided and I know Janine is not lost to South African football. We will support her in whatever way she wants to plough back into women football, whether through coaching or any career that will enhance women football in the country. She is a living legend.’’

Banyana Banyana’s long-time sponsors also applauded Van Wyk after a storied and long career.

“On behalf of Sasol, we want to congratulate Janine for reaching this milestone. The caps she has received are more than any other footballer in Africa. We want to also thank her for her dedication, her contribution and most importantly her leadership in the development of women’s football,” said Nozipho Mbatha, Sasol Senior Manager: Group Brand and Sponsorship.

“We say may those who come after her build on the footsteps of what she has already built, and we look forward to seeing what else she has to contribute off the field towards the growth of South African women’s football.”

SOURCED FROM THE SAFA WEBSITE.

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