Late call for versatile Mekoe to help Bafana

Maritzburg United’s Deolin Mekoa has been called up as cover to the Bafana Bafana left-back position for today’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal at the Peter Mokaba Stadium File picture: Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images
Maritzburg United’s Deolin Mekoa has been called up as cover to the Bafana Bafana left-back position for today’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal at the Peter Mokaba Stadium
File picture: Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images

Maritzburg United utility player Deolin Mekoa has been called up as cover to the Bafana Bafana left-back position for today’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.

Mekoa‚ who can play in defensive midfield‚ or wing or full-back‚ has replaced the injured Tebogo Langerman.

The Maritzburg player did not arrive in Polokwane in time to take part in yesterday’s training session so will not displace Bafana’s first choice left-back‚ Orlando Pirates’ Thabo Matlaba.

Several candidates to replace Langerman‚ who was released from the squad with a hamstring injury‚ were also injured, including Bidvest Wits’ Sifiso Hlanti‚ Sibusiso Khumalo (Kaizer Chiefs) and Marc van Heerden (Chippa United).

Mekoa played at left-back against Brazil in South Africa’s opening 0-0 draw of the Rio Olympic Games in August.

Meanwhile, playing for South Africa in their game today would be Lars Veldwijk’s biggest game of his career‚ his dad has said.

Harry Veldwijk has travelled to South Africa to provide moral support to the 1.96-metre giant striker who has impressed at training – perhaps enough to get the nod for even a start from Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba in the crucial Russia 2018 qualifier.

It might be a big ask for even the broad shoulders of Veldwijk to bear the weight of being the answer to Bafana’s goal-scoring woes.

“It must be a big pressure. I’m not sure. I’m his father and to be honest I’m always a little bit nervous when the big games are there‚” Harry Veldwijk said.

“I don’t know how he will handle it. He always does tell me he’s nervous – but that’s normal game nervousness. This is going to be a big match.

“In Holland he played a championship game in the lower leagues‚ and that was also a big game.

“But this definitely will be the biggest one until now.

“I’m not sure if he will start‚ but if he could get a few minutes‚ that would be awesome.

“I hope my being here helps calm him.

“I think I needed to be here.

“It’s a bit of a difficulty for him‚ because it’s a new country.

Veldwijk appears to have impressed Mashaba in training this week.

On Thursday, the striker from KV Kortrijk in Belgium was perhaps the only Bafana player not just hitting the target regularly in shooting practice‚ but also placing the ball awkwardly far from the goalkeepers regularly‚ and beating them too.

Afterwards, Mashaba appeared to strategically place himself next to the big‚ quiet man in the post-training team huddle‚ and had a few quiet words with him.

Veldwijk has a surprisingly good touch with his feet‚ too‚ for such a big man.

“That’s amazing‚ hey‚ for a guy who is so tall? He’s light on his feet and he hit it quite well in this training‚ yes‚” Harry Veldwijk said.

Harry Veldwijik’s parents emigrated from the Netherlands in the 1950s to South Africa‚ where he was born and spent his first 14 years until the family returned to their native country.

“As a small kid he [Lars} was always playing with a football. When the sun went down his mother or I always had to call him inside.

“He played for a local team until he was about 16. Then he moved to a bigger club‚ and somebody spotted him‚ and it all developed from there, ” Harry Veldwijk said.

This call-up is also the first time the younger Veldwijk has been to South Africa.

 

 

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