16 October 2023 – Long-serving Banyana Banyana player Janine van Wyk will be named in the team to face DR Congo in two 2024 CAF Women’s Olympic qualifiers this month.
Coach Desiree Ellis’ squad for the qualifiers will be named in the coming days and the two matches will be used as a send-off for Van Wyk, who set to bring the curtain down on her glittering career after the games.
The much-loved Van Wyk has earned 183 international caps during a gloried career and should Ellis play her in the two matches, she will become the most capped player, male or female, on the continent.
Banyana Banyana will face the DR Congo in the first leg away from home on 25 October 2023 and then host the Congolese in South Africa a few days later. Van Wyk said calling time on the game she loves has not been easy.
“This has been by far one of the hardest decisions of my life. This decision has always been one I have wanted to make on MY terms. And this is my time to say goodbye to football as a player while I watch the next generation shine,” she said.
“It has been my greatest honour and privilege to play this beautiful game, in particular playing for my Country, which has and always will be the greatest gift football has ever offered me.”
Ellis said Van Wyk “deserves her flowers” and has been an icon, an inspiration and a massive ambassador for South African football in general.
“There are so many superlatives that I can use to describe Janine. I think she’s an absolute legend of the game, not just in South Africa, but also on the African continent as well as globally,” the Banyana Banyana coach said.
“She has led the team at Olympic Games and the World Cup. She has given her all every time she has stepped onto the field. She loved representing this national team and has always played with her heart on her sleeve. She’s an absolute role model to all the kids out there. And I wish her everything of the best in her new adventure.
“I pray that she’s just as successful as her career was. Many blessings to her. I think the legacy she’s left behind has been the hard work she’s put in, always making sure that she’s in absolute good shape to come and represent the national team, and always giving her best.
“She has also created opportunities for others with the club JVW. I’m wishing her once again all the best and blessings in her new adventure.”
South African Football Association (SAFA) President Dr Danny Jordaan said Van Wyk has left an indelible mark both here at home and on the global stage.
“Janine has been a selfless servant of the game and her legendary playing career has influenced so many young girls who have taken up this sport as a career,” the SAFA President said.
“Today, Banyana Banyana are continental champions and also achieved a historic second round milestone in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. All these epic stories and many more could not have been achieved without the massive contribution of this giant.”
SAFA CEO Lydia Monyepao said she understands the emotional roller coaster that Van Wyk must be going through at this stage in her career.
“As a former Banyana Banyana player, I can relate to what Janine has gone through and arriving at her decision,” the SAFA CEO said.
“This is a fitting tribute to one of the country’s football giants on and off the football pitch. Janine has run her race, and what a journey and story she has given us. Her story is what legends are made of.”