Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis explained their eighth minute farewell for legendary Janine van Wyk as they secured their place at the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Van Wyk bowed out in iconic fashion, breaking the 185th cap record held by Egypt legend Ahmed Hassan to become the most capped African footballer of all-time.
However, it raised questions why the first eight minutes of the crucial WAFCON qualifier, which Ellis said was meant to be symbolic of her shirt number.
“Actually it was going to be five minutes for jersey number five but then Nox [Cesane] got injured at that moment where we wanted to make the substitute which was round about five minutes, so that was the whole idea,” Ellis explained to iDiski Times about van Wyk’s send off.
“I also want to say congratulations to Janine for a long career, I think this is well deserved, she’s given her all, always wore her hear on her sleeve, and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person.
“Good luck and welcome to this space, it’s not easy but we wish her all the best and hopefully her coaching career is as successful as your playing career.”
On the game itself where Linda Motlhalo’s penalty and Nicole Michael secured a place at Morocco 2024, where Banyana will look to defend their title – she admitted it was a hard graft especially in the 35 degree heat in Tswhane this afternoon.
“I thought in the first half, we just couldn’t connect and find each other, we gave them a chance and like we did in the first leg, great save by Kaylin, in the beginning, to keep us in the game and at half time we said be more patient,” Ellis said after the game.
“[We asked] to move the ball quicker, lose those one-touch passes, hold on to the ball because the spaces are going to open up and eventually it did. But we could have had a lead at half-time with the chances we created.
“We said keep going, it will come, which it did and then we were able to control the tempo and everything else but once again, we lose concentration and make a mistake, which we’tr trying to minimise. It could have been costly if they had taken it but when it was 2-0 we knew it was game over.
“We’re just happy to have qualified, the travel wasn’t so fantastic but the resilience of the players and great fight from the players, it’s been a long season, Saturdays, Wednesdays, five-hour bus travel, but they stuck it out and showed true grit, which is what champions do when it matters the most – that is when they come through for the team.