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South African Van Wyk becomes most capped African footballer

Janine van Wyk became the most capped African footballer on Monday after making a 185th appearance for South Africa in a 2-0 African Women’s Cup of Nations qualifying win over Burkina Faso.

She overtook Egyptian Ahmed Hassan, who held the record since retiring in 2012 having represented his country 184 times. 

Central defender Van Wyk, 36, played for eight minutes against the Burkinabe in the western Pretoria township of Atteridgeville before being substituted and then confirming her retirement.

She debuted for South Africa in 2005, reached 100 caps nine years later, and matched Hassan by playing in a drawn first leg against Burkina Faso last week.

Her highlights with Banyana Banyana (The Girls) included playing at the 2019 World Cup and the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. 

Van Wyk was close to tears as she hugged her teammates before leaving the Atteridgeville pitch as the heatwave temperature reached 34 Celsius (93 Fahrenheit). 

“I am deeply grateful to all those who helped me during my long career. I could not have achieved this amazing feat without the help of many others,” she told AFP.

“It is important for senior players like me to accept that younger players are seeking selection. We must develop them, make them feel at home, then we must step aside.”

South Africa are the defending Women’s Cup of Nations champions having beaten hosts Morocco in the 2022 final, and the 3-1 aggregate win over Burkina Faso clinched a place at the next finals.

Apart from playing for JVW, a Johannesburg club she formed, Van Wyk had spells with Houston Dash, Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark and Glasgow City.

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