19 Defender Ajax Cape Town South Africa
Skilful, highly regarded teenage central defender gaining serious traction in the ABSA Premiership. Already an established international, Coetzee received his first cap for Bafana Bafana in an African Nations Cup qualifier against Congo on 12 October, 2014. In doing so, he became his country’s youngest ever international just days before his 18th birthday.
2015 has been…
Progressive. That call up into Ephraim Mashaba’s first eleven a year ago was just reward for a player that continues to shine brightly in his home nation. Having already been selected in two previous squads but not used, Coetzee put in as assured a display as any 17 year old centre back could to earn his spurs.
His performance ensured that Coetzee made a valid claim to be first choice for his country at the start of the African Cup of Nations in January, and he duly took to the field against Algeria in South Africa’s opening match. However, an injury midway through the first half led to a defensive reshuffle with Siyabonga Nhlapo taking Coetzee’s place. In his absence, South Africa fell to a 3-1 defeat with all the goals arriving in the second half. Unable to make the second match against Ghana, Coetzee was back in the starting line up alongside Eric Mathoho but was unable to repel a strong Ghana side from easing past their opponents.
Across this year, Coetzee has maintained his place as Mashaba’s first choice central defender and has justified his inclusion with a series of impressive displays. He was part of the side which lost 3-1 to lowly ranked Mauritania in a CAN qualifier in September but we’ll forgive that blot for now.
At club level, Coetzee has been just as consistent. A first choice for Roger De Sá, the Cape Town club have considered the risk of burning out their star youngster but continued to play him. A disappointing season so far this year has, invariably, led to increased speculation regarding Coetzee’s future with both Kaiser Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns – amongst others - especially keen to secure his services.
The year has closed on something of a high note though. As one of the senior players in the squad, Coetzee was in good shape as South Africa’s under-23 team pipped Senegal to third place at the Under 23 African Cup of Nations. Their 3-1 win ensures that South Africa qualify for next summer’s Olympics in Rio.
A mid table finish with Ajax Cape Town is unlikely to stir Rivaldo Coetzee into staying with his club beyond the next few months, despite only being a short way through a recently penned five year contract. The big two in the division will invariably offer a significant pay rise, but Europe must be likely and the elephant in the room is the mothership – Ajax themselves. The Amsterdam club retain a majority share of their African branch and have first refusal on any players coming through so there must remain a strong likelihood that Rivaldo Roberto Genino Coetzee will follow in the footsteps of Steven Pienaar and Thulani Serero.
Capable of playing in central midfield too, we’d like to see Coetzee take charge of games a little more - he has the experience now to back up his obvious talent. At 19, time is very much on Coetzee’s side and if he continues to progress in the same fashion as in the last eighteen months, the future could be very good indeed.
C+ Going well, assert yourself
If you've enjoyed reading the #IBWM100 please make a donation to help us keep the site ad free.