Youngest Ever Bafana Bafana Player Talks about His Debut

By: 
Mon, 13/10/2014 - 15:16
  • Rivaldo Coetzee
    Rivaldo Coetzee

Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba surprised many when he named 17-year old Ajax Cape Town defender Rivaldo Roberto Genino Coetzee in the starting line-up against Congo in a crucial CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier played away in Pointe Noire.

Coetzee became the youngest player ever to don the Bafana Bafana jersey.

With this cap, Coetzee became the youngest player ever to don the Bafana Bafana jersey surpassing the record held by former captain Aaron Mokoena, who was 18 when he made his debut. As the youngest player on the field, Riva, as he is commonly known, did not put a foot wrong against seasoned campaigners.

He spoke to the media after the match at the team hotel in Congo, SAFA Media was also there.

Before the game I was very nervous but everyone kept on motivating me and helped me throughout the game.

Matlhomola Morake: How was the game for you?
Rivaldo Coetzee: I knew it will not be easy and so did the whole team but with the leadership and players around me they helped me a lot and that made me relax. Before the game I was very nervous but everyone kept on motivating me and helped me throughout the game.

MM: How did you feel after you saw your name in the starting line-up:
Rivaldo Coetzee: I heard the night before the game after supper that I was going to start, and I was very shocked because I did not expect that as there are more senior players than me in the squad, and they are also more experienced. They have also played on the continent and know it very well so it was really a shock but it shows that the coach has faith in me.

I just had to come out of my shell and put up a good performance.

MM: Did you sleep at all after that?
Rivaldo Coetzee: Yes I did sleep, but I wanted to sleep the whole night and the whole day and didn’t want the time to move – I really wanted the time to stand still because I was very nervous. I kept telling myself that I don’t think I am ready, maybe I must tell the coach to leave me out of the team.

MM: What went through your head seeing all the fans around the bus?
Rivaldo Coetzee: On our way to the stadium we were singing in the bus, and that also calmed me down. Getting into the stadium and seeing all the fans, I knew that back at home everyone is watching the game and supporting me, I couldn’t disappoint, I just had to come out of my shell and put up a good performance.

It was about representing my country and making use of the chance I am getting.

MM: Making your debut at your age in such a big game?
Rivaldo Coetzee: I know it was not easy but playing with the guys around me, especially (Eric) Mathoho, who is a good motivator but doesn’t talk a lot, the things he does on the field really motivate me, and help me to do better because when he is doing something good I want to do the same so that the combination between us can be tight. It really wasn’t easy but for me as a young boy, but the guys said to me I must play my normal game like I do at training and everything will be alright.

I think after a few touches the nerves calmed down and everything went back to normal.

MM: Did the coach give you particular instructions?
Rivaldo Coetzee: Last night (Friday night) in the team talk he just said this is my one chance I must make use of it, I must do what they brought me here to do.

MM: How was it playing against Congo in their backyard, was it intimidating?
Rivaldo Coetzee: It can be quite intimidating, they are a bit physical and they are tall but to a certain extent. I think after a few touches the nerves calmed down and everything went back to normal.

MM: And the huge crowd?
Rivaldo Coetzee: No they didn’t really affect me. I took it as a normal game.

He said at training I have been doing well so I must just do the same here and take it as a normal game.

MM: Do you now feel like the world is at your feet?
Rivaldo Coetzee: For me it’s quite a relief making my debut against a team like Congo, they were on form and top of the log and we had to play them away in these conditions, so for me is just to keep humble and keep my feet on the ground.

MM: Dean Furman took you to the side before the start of the match, what did he say to you?
Rivaldo Coetzee: He was just telling me to be calm and play my normal game. He said at training I have been doing well so I must just do the same here and take it as a normal game.

MM: How important was this result?
Rivaldo Coetzee:
 Before the game, the coach told us that the first 15 – 20 minutes is crucial. In the first two games they (Congo) scored in the first half, so we knew we had to keep it tight, not concede any goals. We knew that if we didn’t concede then we were going to score. This was a real confidence booster, getting three points away from home. I think going into the next game (Wednesday, 15 October) we will just use everything we did well in this match (on Saturday) and improve where we can.

MM: Are you aware that you are the youngest player to ever represent South Africa in football?
Rivaldo Coetzee: I know, (chuckles) before I came into camp people back at home and my teammates at Ajax Cape Town told me that I can make history, but for me it was not all about that. It was about representing my country and making use of the chance I am getting.

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