The South African Senior Women’s National Team (Banyana Banyana) returns to camp on Monday, 28 September to start preparations for the crucial 2016 Rio Olympic clash against Equatorial Guinea.

The South African Senior Women’s National Team (Banyana Banyana) returns to camp on Monday, 28 September to start preparations for the crucial 2016 Rio Olympic clash against Equatorial Guinea.

The two nations lock horns on Saturday, 3 October at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa Johannesburg. Kickoff is at 15h00.

The second leg will be played in a fortnight in Equatorial Guinea.

SAFA Media caught up with captain Janine van Wyk as she was preparing to go to camp.

Matlhomola Morake: Welcome back, how was Congo?

Janine van Wyk: It was good, it was actually a massive experience for us to go there. We knew that we were going there for a reason – to prepare for the main one, which is the Olympic qualifier against Equatorial Guinea. We had two tough opponents in our group, Cameroon and Ghana and they did not make it any easy for us. But I think we did very well and I am happy with the way we displayed our football.

While we are disappointed by not qualifying for the semi-finals, I believe playing those tough opponents has helped us prepare well. We now have to focus on our next game, the big task that is the Olympic qualifier. I know the players have put that behind them and looking forward to Equatorial Guinea, hopefully we will get a good result at home and also when we play the return leg away.

MM: Must have been disappointing to lose through the draw of the lots?

JvW: Yes, it was very much so. When we saw the Ghana name drawn out it was very heartbreaking because we know that if we had qualified for the semifinals we would have had a good chance of getting to the final and returning with a gold medal. But we have put it behind us, we are just glad we had a good preparation. We stayed together for longer and this past week we had a break. Now we back in camp and hard work starts again.

MM: Next up is Equatorial Guinea, looking forward to it?

JvW: Yes we are hungry to face them. We know what they are about. We know their strengths and weaknesses. We are playing at home first, which is a bit difficult because we have to do well and avoid conceding at all costs as we know how difficult it will be away. It’s a tough battle ahead of us no doubt, and a good result at home will give a good advantage in the second leg.

MM: Personally, you have been nominated for two awards.

JvW: I am really privileged and honoured to be nominated for two awards in one month. I believe I am finally being rewarded for my hard work and effort I have been putting throughout the years and I have waiting patiently for this to happen. What took me by surprise is that they come as a pair in just a short space of time. The disappointing part is that I won’t be attending any of those awards ceremonies because of national team commitments.

MM: And what are those awards?

JvW: The first one is the Africa News Network (ANN7) South African of the Year (SATY) Awards. The SATY Awards seek to celebrate extraordinary South Africans, who are making a difference in the lives of ordinary people. Here I am the only female nominated in the category of Sportsperson of the Year and will be up against (1) AB de Villiers [Cricket]; (2) Duane Vermeulen [Rugby]; (3) Gift Kelehe [Comrades]; (4) Janine van Wyk [Football]; (5) Schalk Burger [Rugby]; (6) Tefu Mashamaite [Football]; and (7) Teko Modise [Football]. It’s a big thing for me to compete with these great athletes. In the second, I have been nominated in the Gauteng Sports Personality of the Year – this is something huge for me because normally I would be in the Sports Woman of the Year catecory, so this is a major one.

MM: Janine, win or lose this is a great achievement?

JvW: Yes most definitely. Being recognised and nominated for such awards is something extraordinary for any athlete because as an athlete you want to be recognised for everything you do for yourself or your country or your province and so I am very pleased with the way things are going. But just being a nominee is something huge for me.

There are so many athletes who are very talented, who give their all day in day out, and who could be in the same spot as I am but I am one of the few who has been nominated and it is honestly a great honour. It’s quite heart-warming that there are people out there who recognise me for what I do on and off the field, and I am really pleased about all of this.

NB: To vote for Sportsperson of the Year, SMS Sports + [Nominee Number] to 43043 or email Sports + [Nominee Number] to satyvoting@ann7.com.

For the Gauteng Sports Personality of the Year, you can vote for me by SMSing 09 to 33525.

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