Heartbreak for Banyana vice-captain Jane as she exits SA camp 90 minutes away from glory
Banyana Banyana vice-captain Refiloe Jane has admitted that leaving the team’s camp on the eve of the Caf African Women’s Championship final against Nigeria in Ghana has left her with a heavy heart.
The star midfielder will miss the tournament showpiece on Saturday afternoon at the Accra Sports Stadium after her Australian club Canberra United exercised their right to recall her from the tournament.
“It is sad that I won’t be playing in the final against Nigeria at the weekend.
"A piece of me wants to play in the final but the other part of me wants me to go and chase my dream of playing pro football overseas‚” she said before leaving the team camp.
“It is not a good situation to be in but it comes with the territory of being a professional athlete.
"Sometimes God puts you in situations knowing what is best for you.
"He has placed me here but at the same time he wants me to be somewhere else.
"I met with the rest of the team and said my goodbyes and I believe that we have a good team and quality players to do well in the final.
"Our technical team has done a good job and I am positive that we will do well.”
SA Football Association (Safa) acting chief executive Russell Paul said there was an agreement with Canberra United that Jane would only be available for a certain number of games in Ghana.
“There was an agreement between the player and the club that she would leave after qualification (for the World Cup)‚" he said.
"Initially the club wanted to have her back after the group stages but we negotiated with them.
"This is part of relationship-building and there is nothing malicious in this arrangement.
"We must celebrate the fact that she put her country first and helped us to qualify for the Cup of Nations final and to the World Cup.
"We must support her because she is embarking on a new and exciting journey with a new club overseas.”
Jane was one of the key figures in Banyana’s march to the final and the Fifa Women's World Cup in France next year.
She thanked the coaches and teammates for understanding her situation.
“I want to thank the Banyana Banyana technical team for allowing me to leave the camp at this crucial stage of the tournament‚" she said.
"I don’t think if it was another coach it was going to be easy.
"I want to thank the team for the opportunity to be here and my club for having allowed me to come here and be part of this tournament.”
If Banyana go on to beat Nigeria for the second time in this event after winning their first meeting in the group stages‚ Jane will miss SA's maiden triumph in this tournament.
“The excitement of having qualified for the Afcon final and the World Cup hasn’t sunk in yet because immediately after the game I had to go for doping (tests) and I spent about three hours there‚" she said.
"While I was waiting there‚ my teammates were celebrating and by the time I was finished the celebrations were finished.
"Looking back at past tournaments‚ we fell short of qualifying and it was about time we did it‚” she said‚ added that they must prepare well for the World Cup.
“It is going to be important for the team to prepare well for the World Cup and we should not relax.
"We are hoping that we will get more support because we don’t want to go to France to just make up the numbers but to get here and make the most out of this.”