Janine van Wyk back in Banyana squad as she chases African record

23 November 2023 - 16:59
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Banyana Banyana veteran defender Janine Van Wyk. File photo
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images Banyana Banyana veteran defender Janine Van Wyk. File photo

Banyana Banyana stalwart Janine van Wyk is in line to finally become the most-capped African player of all-time. 

Van Wyk, 36, is on 183 international caps in a glorious career and needs only two matches to become the most-capped player — male or female — on the continent. 

That dream is a distinct possibility after coach Desiree Ellis included Van Wyk in the defending champions’ 24-player squad to face Burkina Faso in their two-legged 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) qualifier later this month.

The first leg is in Yamoussoukro, Burkina Faso on November 30 (6.30pm SA time) and the return match at Lucas Moripe Stadium on December 4 (3pm). 

“We will do our outmost best to get her these two caps,” Ellis said announcing her squad on Thursday. 

“It is not just a record for her but for women’s football in the country, on the continent and for Safa. She was in the previous camp against Democratic Republic of Congo [Banyana’s 3-1 aggregate Olympic qualifying win last month]. I said then there would be another opportunity and here is another opportunity.” 

Van Wyk is not the only player who is chasing a significant milestone. Attacker Mpumi Nyandeni is on 149 caps and Ellis said there is a plan to see her move to 150. 

“Janine was the first one to reach out and say she was retiring. Mpumi is the second that has reached out. We have had conversations with her and there is definitely something in the pipeline. I can confidently say that I am busy with that.” 

Ellis will be without key players due to injuries and school examinations. 

“Bambanani Mbane, Refiloe Jane, Thalea Smidt, Bongeka Gamede, Sibulele Holweni and Nomvula Kgoale are not available due to various injuries. Sinoxolo Cesane is also not available because her university said if she misses any more classes she will not get her degree.” 

Ellis said it is important Banyana progress past Burkina Faso so they can defend their title. 

“It is not just any match but final qualifier for Afcon. We are the defending champions and if we don’t win this match, we won’t be at the tournament to defend our title. 

“We have to make sure we do well in these two games, especially in the first game away from home. We must make sure that we take away the pressure of playing at home by getting something in Burkina Faso. 

“We all know the pressure of playing at home and how difficult it can be for the players. We will make sure we have enough information about Burkina Faso — we already have an analysis on them and it has been shared with the players. 

“We know exactly what we need to do but it is executing the game plan and making sure that we get a positive result [away]. 

“Coming home for the return leg, we will have fans in the stadium. In the last match against DR Congo they were magnificent and motivated the players and we are asking for that to happen again.” 

The 2024 Wafcon will be in Morocco again.

Banyana Squad

Goalkeeper: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Katlego Moletsane

Defenders: Karabo Dhlamini, Fikile Magama, Faith Nokuthula, Janine van Wyk,
Lebohang Ramalepe, Noko Matlou, Asanda Hadebe, Lonathemba Mhlongo

Midfielders: Linda Motlhalo, Kholosa Biyana, Sphumelele Shamase , Amogelang Matlou, Thubelihle Shamase

Forwards: Nicole Michael, Gabriela Salgado, Samkelisiwe Selana, Jermaine Seoposenwe, Noxolo Cesane, Wendy Shongwe, Hildah Magaia, Thembi Kgatlana