Banyana Banyana have completed their preparations for an all-important clash against Kenya.

Banyana Banyana have completed their preparations for an all-important clash against Kenya.

The 2016 Rio Olympic first leg third round qualifier will be staged at Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday, 18 July – on the birthday of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the late former State President of South Africa. Kick-off is at 15h00.

SAFA Media sat down with captain Janine van Wyk after their final training session at the match venue.

Matlhomola Morake: How do you see the match?

Janine van Wyk: Preparations have been going very well, players are looking very strong and really hungry to play in front of South Africans again and we are aware it’s a big one for us. We don’t really know much about Kenya, we have never played them before so we are preparing as best as possible, to go out there and give our all, and get as many goals as possible to make it easier for us going into the second leg.

MM: How important is it to start on a good footing?

JvW: It’s very vital, we need to get a convincing win because its not easy travelling and playing away on the continent because some teams make it difficult for you when you visit them. So a win with a lead of three to four goals will be good for us. Hopefully we can get that win and make the fans happy.

MM: Does is make a difference whether you start home or away?

JvW Not really, as I said if we start at home we need a convincing win but if we play away it’s important to fight hard and get the three points. But playing at home first makes it easier because we can see what the opponents are really about and can conquer them in the second leg.

MM: To be honest, Gabon was not that difficult – how different will it be against Kenya?

JvW: The first game in Gabon was difficult even though we won 3-2, but the second at home was a stroll in the park because we knew what they were about and capitlised on their weaknesses – same thing we intend doing against Kenya, we need to prepare thoroughly, play our best but most importantly focus on ourselves.

MM: What will be a good result for SA going into the second leg?

JvW: As I said, a comfortable win of four or five goals will be good for us. We need to go to Kenya with a good result on our back and under no pressure to win or draw. Do most of the job in the first leg and complete the job in the return leg. We need to make sure our destiny is still in our hands when we visit them.

MM: Dobsonville has become sort of a fortress for Banyana Banyana…..

JvW: Yes, we have now embraced it as our home ground. We have a lot of support there nowadays because people know that we play our matches there. More and more of our fans are starting to come in numbers to back us and that is huge confidence booster to all the players because we know there will be a crowd cheering us to play better as a team and showcase what women’s football is all about in South Africa.

MM: The break between the qualifiers – against Gabon and against Kenya – does it affect the rhythm of the team?

JvW: No it doesn’t affect us that much. We are actually very active even outside the national team camp. The coach has organised things really well for all the players wherever they are based, that we have centralised training. Johannesburg-based players gather or Cape Town-based players come together one day a week and train together to keep the intensity going. As for the players from other areas like Bloemfontein or Limpopo, they train with boys – so we all try to keep as fit as possible by working hard as individuals, and this is over and above what we do at our clubs. And when we come to the national team it makes everything much easier.

MM: The 18th of July is Nelson Mandela’s birthday, and you have a match on the same day….

JvW: Oh yes, we know very well that it is Madiba’s birthday and we feel honoured to be playing on this great day. We won’t dedicate 67 minutes, instead we will dedicate 90 minutes to him and we hope a huge crowd comes and celebrates with us, and a win will be the icing on the cake on this special day.

The return leg against the Harambe Starlets of Kenya will be played on Sunday, 2 August at Machakos Stadium in the capital Nairobi.