Defending champions South Africa will be led by their evergreen captain Janine van Wyk at the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Championship that will be contested in Nelson Mandela Bay from July 31-August 11.
Banyana Banyana are seeking a hat-trick of titles after also collecting the trophy in 2017 and are eager to showcase their progression after recently returning from the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Van Wyk shares her thoughts on the competition and South Africa’s draw, which sees them take on Comoros Islands (July 31), Malawi (August 2) and Madagascar (August 5) in Group A, all at the Wolfson Stadium.
What are your thoughts on the draw?
For us it is a good draw, but a very tough draw. Looking at the other teams in the pool, we have played them a couple of times before. Malawi and Madagascar we played a year ago in the COSAFA Cup, and Comoros we played a couple of years ago .
It’s easy to say, ‘we have beaten these teams already’, but in terms of growth and preparation, these teams have had that also. So it won’t be an easy one for us. Malawi are a very strong team and Madagascar are not bad themselves. Comoros could be a surprise team. We have to take every game as if it is a final for us.
Do you feel pressure to lift the title again?
We have pressure on us, being the defending champions in the tournament, but also coming from playing at the very highest level of the game at the World Cup. So we need to produce good performances and results, and show why we were one of 24 teams in France. We cannot think this is going to be an easy tournament for us.
It will be important for our confidence as well, knowing we have not won a game in 2019. This tournament can help us get our winning mentality and confidence back.
Will the side be able to switch mindset again from the World Cup to the COSAFA Cup?
It is two different levels, but for us as a team we will have an edge over a couple of other teams that will be here. But we have to go out as if we are going to play at the World Cup, with full force and try to get as good a result as we would want. It becomes dangerous if you relax, we need to make sure we are 100 percent ready for whichever match we play. We know all eyes will be on us.
You must be pleased to be back in Nelson Mandela Bay, where you received such great support last year?
We know we are going to a place where we are well supported, especially after last year’s tournament, where we had amazing support. I am sure there will be even more support this year. It is like going back to our home-ground.”
Finally, what is the aim of the team this this tournament?
We are seen as one of the best teams in Africa at the moment having gone to the World Cup, and we can’t set any aim but to win it again. There is just no way we can think it is OK if we don’t win this COISAFA Cup. We are capable of doing it and this is a good opportunity to show what we have leant on the world stage, by playing good football and making the people happy by getting wins.