Sibongiseni Gumbi
Football writer
2 minute read
8 Nov 2016
12:29 pm

New Bafana striker desperate to shine

Sibongiseni Gumbi

Bafana Bafana's new striker Lars Veldwijk is already feeling the pressure of international football, but is keen to help the team qualify for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

Veldwijk was a surprise inclusion in Shakes Mashaba’s team for the match against Senegal, set for Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking to Radio 702 on Sunday, Veldwijk said he was both excited and worried about his first time as a Bafana player.

The 25-year-old marksman touched down on South African soil for the first time yesterday morning. Veldwijk, born in Holland, is eligible to play for Bafana because of his South African father.
“This is amazing for me. I never dreamed it would happen. But I am proud now that I have been selected,” he said.

Veldwijk is currently with KRC Kortrijik in Belgium, though he has had limited game time since signing for them from English Championship side Nottingham Forest this season.

The Bafana striker says he has not had any contact with South Africa’s other Belgium-based players – Ayanda Patosi and Andile Jali, but he does have someone in the team that he is familiar with.

“I know Thulani Serero and have spoken to him a few times … everything will be new and a surprise for me, but I am looking forward to it,” he said. Veldwijk knows Serero because of his time in Holland, where he played on loan last season at PEC Zwolle.

He also revealed he had not spoken to Mashaba directly before his call-up, but had been in constant contact with team manager Barney Kujane, who assured him the coach had been monitoring his progress.

Asked for his strengths and what he brings to Bafana, he said: “My height is one of my strengths. I am big but not slow. If I get good balls in the box I can score goals. I like scoring goals.

“I have seen the stadium where the game will be played and I saw it is quite good and big,” he added.

He said his father has given him as much information about South Africa as possible.

“My father told me a lot about South Africa. My family is very proud of me being called up for the national team. My dad told me Bafana is a big name in African football, and very popular too.”

He added that while he would love to score on debut if selected on Saturday, he knows the result is more important.

“It’s very important to win against Senegal, it is a big game for the team. When I play I always want to score, but the most important thing is that we win this game.

“So even if I don’t score but we win, I will be happy. At the end of the day we need the three points. I hope I get a chance and I will make the most of it,” said Veldwijk.

Like all the players, he would love to play at the World Cup.