COMING INTO his first Africa Cup of Nations on the back of scoring 25 goals at his club Sparta Rotterdam puts striker Lars Veldwijk under the spotlight to replicate his club form.
With Percy Tau and Lebo Mothiba the usual leaders of the Bafana Bafana attack, Veldwijk’s blistering form should be giving coach Stuart Baxter some headache ahead of their Afcon opener against Ivory Coast at Al Salam Stadium on Monday (3.30pm).
The in-form Rotterdam man justified his inclusion in the team by netting a brace in a practice match when the Bafana squad split into two teams on Wednesday.
Bafana played among themselves after Angola pulled the plug on a pre-planned warm-up friendly, citing lack of training at the eleventh hour.
“Yesterday [on Wednesday], we had a good practice match; it was nice scoring some goals. For me it’s only to prove to the coach that I am ready,” said Veldwijk, who had his third goal ruled out for offside.
“Hopefully, I showed him [Baxter] enough. I am happy that I am here, that I made the final squad. We had good preparations, a good week in Jo’burg and a good week in Dubai, now we are in Egypt we need to get the final things right.”
At the tournament, which starts today and ends on July 19, Bafana are in Group D alongside Namibia, Morocco and Ivory Coast.
“It’s up to the coach who he plays; we have quality in the team. All the 23 players are ready to play. The morale of the team is very good. Everybody is enjoying it. We work hard and we can surprise many, said Veldwijk, who helped Rotterdam clinch promotion to the Dutch elite league in the past season.
The 27-year-old also explained what he brings to the team as he grew up in Europe and never played in the Absa Premiership like most of his teammates in the squad.
“The guys [in the team] have a lot of quality in the possession game, and it’s not mine. Mine is scoring goals and being in the box. “I’m a different type of player than most of the players in the team… I live for goals and I want to score goals,” he said.
Image (The Dutch based Lars Veldwijk, will he be Bafana’s savior in the finishing department as they begin their AFCON assignment on Monday against Ivory Coast)?