Bafana Bafana

The Great Debate: Veldwijk good or bad for Bafana?

2016-11-11 14:45
Lars Veldwijk (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Is the inclusion of Lars Veldwijk good or bad for Bafana Bafana?

The South Africans are up against African giants on Saturday when Shakes Mashaba's charges face Senegal in a 2018 Soccer World Cup qualifier.

Having been held to a 1-1 draw against Burkina Faso in their last outing, a victory on Saturday could put Bafana Bafana in a much better position for a spot in Russia in a little under two years.

Senegal got their campaign off to a flyer with a 2-0 victory over Cape Verde Islands and will hope to sting Bafana's chances of qualification.

Mashaba surprised many football fanatics with the addition of Veldwijk in his 25-man Bafana squad, despite the 25-year-old having never set foot in South Africa before.

Veldwijk qualifies for South African citizenship through his father.

With the next few international games vitally important for Bafana Bafana, should Mashaba extend national call-ups for international players even if they have never lived in South Africa?

Scoring goals has also been a major concern for Bafana Bafana for far too long. Can Veldwijk solve the problem?

Sport24's Tashreeq Vardien believes the call-up is one that can benefit South Africa, while Baden Gillion argues that Veldwijk's inclusion will only further harm Bafana Bafana.

VELDWIJK TO BRING FRESH IDEAS - Tashreeq Vardien

Bafana Bafana are certainly not short of strikers.

Shakes Mashaba has a pool of forwards to choose from, both playing in the PSL and those plying their trade abroad.

However, of those, who can he trust to put the ball in the back of the net? 

A question I wish I had an answer to!

Mashaba seemingly prefers to play with a lone striker up front, followed by three attacking forwards and two holding midfielders. This has been the case with Mashaba’s formation since he took over from Gordon Igesund.

Bongani Ndulula was Mashaba’s favourite choice early on in his tenure and despite not proving his worth in front of goal domestically, he kept his place whenever the internationals came around. Inevitably, the striker never received a call-up to the national squad again after Mashaba started to look for better options.

We had the odd appearances of Dino Ndlovu, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Thamsanqa Gabuza, Prince Nxumalo and Tokelo Rantie but none of them could hold their own in front of goal.

With the addition of Veldwijk, the current crop of forwards, namely Eleazar Rodgers, Thuso Phala, Vilakazi and Rantie, it gives Mashaba an opportunity to look at a player who is playing in a European league and netted 14 goals in his loan spell at PEC Zwolle last season. He now plays for KV Kortrijk.

Vilakazi has hit a barren patch since arriving at Mamelodi Sundowns and has struggled to find the form that saw him rise to prominence at Bidvest Wits in front of goal.

Wits coach Gavin Hunt has lured Rodgers from Platinum Stars which has seen the striker help guide the Clever Boys to the top of the Absa Premiership as well as claiming the MTN8 Cup.

Phala has hit a good patch of form playing down the right for SuperSport United and even picked up a few goals for all his hard work.

I am not shying away from the problem that Bafana Bafana have in front of goal - they have been woeful in that department.

It has taken Mashaba far too long to address the problem, but with that being said, as a coach don’t you give players the benefit of the doubt being off-form or is it just a lack of BMT?

Being patient is as much a part of the football blueprint as it is getting to know how to defend a set-piece.

Veldwijk comes in at just the right time for South Africa.

His selection could be an eye opener for Mashaba to see that in a national set-up we need to bring in as many players who ply their trade overseas.

But more importantly players that are on form!

DUTCH INCLUSION POINTLESS - Baden Gillion 

There is a much bigger problem as to the reason why our strikers are failing to score goals in South African soccer.

The fault does not just lie at the feet of our current crop of strikers, but at a much bigger problem as to how we play the game.

South African players are gifted with flair, athleticism and technical ability, but seriously lack tactical awareness and simply thinking while in possession of the ball.

Our players tend to play more on instinct than to a set plan which is why our game is so unpredictable. That is why you will hardly ever see a goal being scored from a set move, with goals rather being scored from opposition mistakes.

Just to highlight the gulf in awareness and tactical astuteness from our local players to international players, I read a book on Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta where a particular passage pointed out a scenario where the Spanish international would play seemingly pointless passes to the right-back drawing out the opposition and leading them into a sense of false security. As the opposition midfielder tried to close down Iniesta, he received the ball back, the Barcelona man would turn his opposite number, exposing space in the middle of the field. Even before Iniesta did all of this, each member of his team knew what was about to happen, with the strikers particularly making runs to receive an inch perfect pass.

Jurgen Klopp also when appearing on Monday Night Football recently said that once his Liverpool team wins possession after chasing after it like mad-men, they are taught to turn on a switch mentally to be calm on the ball and not frantically lose possession as quickly as they regained it.

So on the decision to include Lars Veldwijk, I have nothing against his inclusion and he probably is a decent footballer. But I do think that it is a pointless exercise and an attempt by SAFA to find a temporary fix to a permanent long-standing problem.

Going back as far as the 2009/10 PSL season, there hasn’t been a striker who has scored 20 league goals or more.

We have tried and failed before at recruiting foreign strikers, with Davide Somma being given a call-up while at Leeds United in England. The way we play in South Africa might also prove tough for Veldwijk to adapt to and would put unfair pressure on the Holland-based striker for remedy our scoring problems.

We need to give our players, and not just the strikers, the tools to make the correct decisions on the pitch, also to clinically make smart decisions as this is what separates average players from great ones.

Veldwijk in or out? Should Mashaba consider more players playing internationally...? Let us know at mysport@sport24.co.za

Read more on:    bafana bafana  |  lars veldwijk  |  soccer
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