Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk believes they gave it all as a team despite losing 1-0 to Sweden in the first match of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games currently underway in Brazil.
The South African Women’s Olympic team fought tooth and nail to deny Sweden who beat them 4-1 in a similar game in London four years ago.
The two nations met again on Wednesday, 3 August 2016 at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
“Our performance was absolutely amazing. We went out there and fought really hard for the full match and we did so well, unfortunately in the 75th minute we conceded that soft goal due to just one silly error – everything was a scramble around the goal area at that time and we couldn’t defend our goal. Unfortunately if you make one mistake against a quality team like that you will get punish,” said Van Wyk.
“The positive thing is that we bounced back after the goal and pushed really hard and that showed the characted of the team, that even though we are losing we were still capable of coming back. I believe if we had a few more minutes we would have pulled one back and salvage a point. But overall I am happy with the team’s performance and it can only give us confidence going into our second match and get a good result from it.”
The Banyana Banyana skipper believes months of hard work and a lot of experience in the team was key in the match against Sweden.
“The team has come a long way with each other – there are ten players who played in London 2012, so there is a lot of experience. What counted for us was the fighing spirit as everyone worked their socks off for each other, we played as a unit. It was very difficult for them to also break us down. We have come so far since 2012, have learned so much along the way, we prepared so well and everything is paying off in terms of performance,” added Van Wyk.
“Unfortunately it is heartbreaking that we didn’t get any point against Sweden. I believe they didn’t really deserve the three points, but we have to leave this behind, rectify our mistakes and focus on the next assignment. We know it is a very crucial match for us, we also believe we can get maximum points against China, not that we are underestimating them, but I think we can compete well against them as they play similar football to us.”
The clash against Sweden was a also a personal milestone for Van Wyk. Four years ago she went to London as one of the players, but this time around she is leading the team as captain.
“I felt very strong as we stood in the tunnel. And as we walked onto the field, I could just feel everyone backing me in the team. I was something very special and I felt something really amazing – I had goose bumps all over my body knowing this is something we have worked really hard and so long for, all of us. After the game I felt just as proud as the moment I stepped onto the field,” said Van Wyk.
The team returns to training later today (Thursday, 4 August) to continue preparations for the clash against China which is scheduled for Saturday, 6 August at the Olympic Stadium. Kickoff is at 19h00 local time (midnight SA time).