BEING spotted in a rural area is near impossible in South African football.
More so when you’re from the 10 000-population, middle-of-nowhere town of Kakamas on the banks of the Orange River.
Which makes Rivaldo Coetzee’s path to the big time as a first-team starter at Ajax Cape Town and, last week, Shakes Mashaba s new Bafana Bafana squad, remarkable at such a young age.
There aren’t many opportunities there,” said the defender of his home town.
Coetzee (17) would still be in school if he were not playing professional football. I have a tutor provided by Ajax because they want me to finish my matric, he said.
He is one of five players Mashaba included from the South African under20 team on the verge of qualifying for the CAF under-20 championships in a youth-focused Bafana squad for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sudan and Nigeria.
There s no doubt in my mind they have the talent to make a breakthrough to playing for PSL teams. Right now, the four who made Bafana with me Nhlakanipho Ntuli, Siyanda Ngubo, Ayabulela Magqwaka and goalkeeper Dumisani Msibi stand out.”
Showing talent as a teen for Kakamas Sundowns, Coetzee went for trials with Safa’s School of Excellence in 2011. One of the school’s coaches, Mandla Mazibuko, a national under-17 coach, got the defender into the side. That was where Ajax spotted Coetzee, and he joined the club’s youth structures in 2012. He was promoted to the senior side last season and played six games.
This season, Coetzee has formed a central defensive partnership with Abbubaker Mobara (19) that must be one of the PSL’s youngest.
Roger de Sa, the coach, said Coetzee, like Mobara, made the Ajax first team on merit.
He trains with the senior team. You can see he’s as good as the rest, if not better.
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