Banyana and Jane’s African dream starts against Zimbabwe

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Following in the footsteps of her male counterparts is a rare act for Jane. She and her Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies’ teammates are normally the trendsetters. When they won the Sasol League national championships in 2013 and 2015, the Brazilians followed on their path to lift the Absa Premiership in 2014 and earlier this year. But when it comes to being African champions, the men’s team did that first by beating Zamalek in the final. Now Jane, along with Andile Dlamini and Andisiwe Mgcoyi - the Sundowns Ladies’ contingent in the Banyana squad that’s in Cameroon - are the ones playing catch-up.

They’ll start that quest, in the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWC), Saturday at 7.30pm against neighbours Zimbabwe. This match, at Stade Ahamadou Ahidjo in Yaounde, will come straight after the hosts Cameroon take on Egypt. These four nations complete Group A. Nigeria, Mali, Ghana and Kenya make up Group B. Banyana have to get the better of most of these nations to become African champions for the first time in their history, two months after the Brazilians claimed their continental title.

“Winning this trophy would mean so much for us as a group and the nation, especially for coach Desiree (Ellis) who would be the first coach to lead us to being African champions,” Jane said. “It would be a huge achievement and would mean a lot, with a South African coach guiding us to that. We have played a number of tournaments as a team but we have never won a trophy. For us to go forward and to play in big tournaments like the World Cup, which is what we want, we need to first conquer the continent before we can compete there.”

Jane comes into this tournament with added but familiar respon-sibilities as vice-captain. She will deputise for Janine van Wyk. The 24-year-old’s re-appointment is part of a plan for the future with the likes of Van Wyk, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Noko Matlou and Dlamini nearing the end of their international careers.

Jane, one of the most experienced players among those who are in their early 20s, has a good blend of experience and years ahead of her.

“It wasn’t such a shock when I was appointed as the vice-captain because under (former Banyana) coach Joseph Mkhonza, when Janine was selected as the captain (taking over from Dlamini), I was appointed to be her deputy,” Jane said.

“Things changed when coach Vera (Pauw) came in. Now I am back to being the deputy. Nothing much is going to change because I will be doing something that I have done before. I have also captained Sundowns. I showed qualities of a leader there, taking over the responsibility to guide the team. Being selected to be the deputy captain at an early age, I think that they were preparing me for the future. So when the likes of Janine get out of the system, I can take over and it’s not a major adjustment.”

If anything happens to Van Wyk and Banyana go all the way, Jane would be the first to lift the AWC trophy. She would return to touch Sundowns’ Champions League trophy as an African champion, too.

Banyana v Zimbabwe

Head-to-head

Games played: 21

Banyana wins: 14

Banyana losses: 3

Draws: 4

Banyana goals: 43

Zimbabwe goals: 19

The Star

Original source: Banyana and Jane’s African dream starts against Zimbabwe

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