Bafana coach likes what he sees in Lars Veldwijk
Baxter keen to give big striker a run at Cosafa cup
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is considering calling Lars Veldwijk‚ the striker who banged in 24 goals in 36 games for Sparta Rotterdam in the Dutch First Division this past season‚ up for the Cosafa Cup in Durban for a further look.
Baxter had a brief look at Veldwijk when the big centre-forward was called up for Bafana’s final Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Libya in Tunisia in April.
Veldwijk got a very brief run-on in the 90th minute‚ being introduced for Percy Tau as SA were running down the clock to a 2-1 win and qualification to Egypt 2019.
Veldwijk’s goals have helped propel Sparta to runners-up in the Eerste Divisie‚ and the play-offs for promotion to the top-flight Eredivisie.
Baxter is keen to have more of a look at Veldwijk‚ especially in game situations‚ when Bafana take mostly fringe players to Durban for the Cosafa Cup in June.
Based on that the coach is weighing up having Veldwijk at the Nations Cup – from June 21 to July 19 in Egypt – as an “impact player”‚ and back-up as a big centre-forward to the Strasbourg striker Lebogang Mothiba.
“I had a short look at him and I liked what I saw. To the degree that‚ while I don’t think he is a competitor to burst into the team‚ he’s a very interesting impact player for us‚” Baxter said.
“And on the camp in Libya I got the feeling that the guys warmed to him a bit. Because I asked them to play him in a certain way.
“I said don’t play him in the same way you would with Percy. He can’t do that.
“I said but do play with him the same way as you do with a big striker who wants to manhandle that centreback.
“And we played a practise game‚ and they played the ball down the channel‚ and Buhle [Mkhwanazi] was coming out and it was very comfortable.
“And suddenly Lars just ran straight over him‚ knocked the ball and smashed it into the top corner from about 20 yards.
“And I saw all the lads look at each other‚ as if to say: ‘Eh‚ we could use that’.
“So‚ our approach to Lars has to be correct‚ otherwise he’s worthless for us.
“And I do see him as being an impact player. And yes‚ we have discussed whether we could get him to Cosafa to have that little extra look.”
Dutch-born Veldwijk (27)‚ who has a South African father‚ was first called up by former Bafana coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba for SA’s later-annulled 2-1 World Cup qualifying win against Senegal in Polokwane in November 2017.
He did not get a run in that game but‚ with Mashaba placed on suspension for a rant after the match directed at his SA Football Association bosses‚ Veldwijk was handed a start by stand-in coach Owen Da Gama in Bafana’s 1-1 friendly draw against Mozambique in Maputo four days later.
That was his lone international cap until his cameo appearance against Libya in April.