'This is the last chance for most of us'

It’s been a dream for many of the players in the Banyana squad to play at the World Cup and a few of the long-serving players such as Van Wyk, Mpumi Nyandeni and Noko Matlou know that this could be the last chance in their careers to qualify for the showpiece.

To qualify for the World Cup, set to be played in France next year, Banyana need to finish in the top three at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana, which kicks off on November 17. Head coach Desiree Ellis named her 21-player squad for the competition, calling up a number of experienced players and those who have in recent times made moves overseas.

Having players who are now getting an opportunity to play in professional leagues abroad will boost Banyana’s chances of finally qualifying for the World Cup.

“For us it’s an emotional one because for some of us it may be our last opportunity to qualify for the World Cup, as we have never done before. I strongly believe that this is the team that is going to take us to France. Why I say that is because we have players who are highly experienced in the team, players who have over 100 caps in our team and players who have played overseas and have competed at the highest level in women’s football,” Van Wyk said after the squad was named at SAFA House in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“We’ve been in camp for two weeks and every session has been tough. It’s prepared us for this upcoming tournament and we just have to thank Sasol and our association SAFA for allowing us to be in camp for this long. Women’s football is developing and people are really taking an interest in Banyana and recognising our hard work.”

Banyana are in Group B with Zambia, Kenya and the tournament’s most successful side Nigeria.