Janine van Wyk says Banyana Banyana must put their Spain defeat behind them and look forward to their clash with China on Thursday as they seek to win a place in the second round of the Fifa Women’s World Cup.
A Thembi Kgatlana goal gave Banyana the lead in their World Cup debut on Saturday‚ but two penalty decisions‚ both confirmed via the video assistant referee (VAR)‚ and another late strike‚ saw them slip to a 3-1 defeat.
The first penalty came when Van Wyk was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box‚ a decision she feels was “harsh”.
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“It was a tough loss for us‚ but there were some positive moments that came from the game. Scoring our first World Cup goal was an amazing feeling‚” Van Wyk said.
“We knew Spain were going to be really tough in the second half‚ coming with guns blazing. We managed to hold them up until the penalty. I had a look at it and it was quite harsh I feel.”
Full-back Nothando Vilakazi gave away a second penalty‚ and received a red card for a second booking‚ to give Spain the lead and numerical advantage.
“After that decision‚ things started changing‚ Vivo [Vilakazi] with her VAR decision and the red card changed the game completely and with going one man [player] down‚ against a quality team like Spain it was hard to hold them.
“That’s what killed us in the second half‚ we have to learn from that‚ it was a positive game from the team‚ we gave our all.”
With world No2 Germany looming in their final pool match‚ Banyana will need to win against the Chinese to have any chance of making the next stage. The top two sides in each pool and the four best third-placed teams advance to the knockout rounds.
Germany laboured to a 1-0 win over China in their opener‚ and Van Wyk says that shows the quality of the Asian side.
“We know Germany is a tough side to beat and so to only lose 1-0 against such a team says China means business. They are a quality team that can run for 190 minutes‚ let alone 90‚ so we need to be cautious in what we do in our defending‚ but also in our attack to not leave a lot of space for them to play.
“So if we can close the gaps and stay compact when they have the ball‚ it will close a lot of spaces for them.”
Van Wyk has waited more than a decade to play at the World Cup‚ but says she was so focused on the task against Spain that there was little time for emotion.
“It was a good feeling‚ I thought I would be more emotional than what I was‚” she said. “I was so focused on what I needed to do in the game rather than the atmosphere and my surroundings and all that. I didn’t have much time to think about that.
“But when I sang the national anthem‚ it was like ‘we are here‚ the whole world is watching’. It is something that can never be taken away from us.”