Cape Town - Bafana Bafana and Ajax Cape Town defender Rivaldo Coetzee believes the experience he gained at the Africa Cup of Nations has only made him a better player.
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The 18-year-old defender was impressive throughout the occasion and even walked away with a man-of-the-match accolade in Bafana's do-or-die match against Ghana.
He believes the experience at the continental showpiece in Gabon has helped him to mature and improve.
“Being at the AFCON was a great experience for me and as I'm growing older, I'll now at least know more or less what to expect,” Coetzee told Football411.
“I gained a lot going into the tournament, I didn't know much about it and I didn't really know what to expect.
“I would say teams there are unpredictable, there are different world class players in different countries so you never know what to expect.
“Getting that man-of-the-match against Ghana boosted my confidence a lot because it showed that despite being there to learn, I was doing something right.
“But I'm most grateful to the coaches who've given me the chance and believed in me. I believe it has benefitted me a lot with experience.”
Coetzee also revealed his gratitude to former Bafana coach Clive Barker who recently revealed in the media that he thought the Kakamas-born defender was a star for the future.
“You know he was the coach when Bafana won the 1996 Afcon trophy,” he added.
“So he knows exactly what he's talking about.
“And for him to speak so positively of me is a great confidence booster and truly, I'm grateful.
“But I will not let that get to my head now because I must remain focused, keep my feet on the ground and continue to work hard to become a better player.”
Coetzee is currently in camp with Bafana ahead of this week's two international friendlies against Swaziland and Nigeria.