Rivaldo Coetzee may only be 18-years-old, but he is almost already a seasoned professional at both club and international level. The South African teenager, who plays for Ajax Cape Town, made his international debut at just seventeen in 2014, and has been a constant fixture in the national set-up ever since. And of course, with a name like Rivaldo, being a football star seemed to have been written in the stars.
Name: Rivaldo Coetzee
Position: Central defender
Club: Ajax Cape Town
When Rivaldo Coetzee made his debut for South Africa against Congo in October 2014, he became the youngest ever player capped for the country. It was a meteoric rise for the young central defender, who had only just played a few months of senior club football.
Like most players who come through the Ajax system, Rivaldo is a well all-rounded player, who does most of the basics right. As a young defender though it is his overall reading of the game that is impressive. His positioning is excellent, and is hardly ever caught out of position. He is also very aware of what is happening around him, and keeps an eye on both the opposition and his team, very often covering for an out-of-position team-mate.
While he may not be the tallest centre back, he is still growing, and is solid in the air. His man marking is strong, and he times his tackles very well.
Since making his debut in the second half of the 2013/14 season, Rivaldo has made 37 club appearances for Ajax Cape Town (league and cup), and has only ever picked up three yellow cards, a decent stat for a defender. This is all the more impressive because for a large part, he has partnered with another young defender, Abbubaker Mobara.
He also has ten caps already for South Africa’s senior team in just eight months.
Coetzee was also a regular member of South Africa U17 and U20 teams until he made his senior debut. He was part of the teams that won both the All Africa Games in 2012, and Cosafa U20 Championship in 2013. He is yet to score a goal at a senior level.
Due to Ajax Cape Town’s affiliation with Ajax Amsterdam, it has long been predicted that Rivaldo would join up with the Dutch club sooner rather than later. He has been on their radar since he was sixteen. He has also been a ‘guest player’ for Amsterdam’s U19 team at a few tournaments.
But ever since his debut for the national team, and being focussed on in the Football Manager documentary ‘An Alternative Reality’ in 2014, Rivaldo has also been linked to moves to Portugal, Belgium and England. However due to international regulations regarding work permits (and age), much of the talk has been about future moves.
“About my future, I’m still a young boy and I must stay humble and learn as much as I can. But I would love to have the chance to play in Europe one day.” – Coetzee said in November 2014.
Written by Rob Delport
Follow Rob on Twitter @FMSouthAfrica
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