EAST LONDON – With questions raised about the non-appearance of striker Lars Veldwijk in the two Bafana Bafana friendly matches against Guinea-Bissau in Durban on Saturday and Angola in East London three days later, caretaker coach Owen da Gama has admitted the player is struggling to make the national team grade.
A lot was expected from Veldwijk after he was first called up for the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal in November last year by axed coach Shakes Mashaba.
He was hardly convincing during training sessions and one practice match against a lower division side and was an unused substitute in the now controversial 2-1 win over the Lions of Teranga at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Veldwijk made his debut in the 1-1 away friendly match against Mozambique a few days later, but did not impress.
On Tuesday night, shortly after Bafana’s goalless draw against Angola at the Buffalo City Stadium, Da Gama suggested the timing just wasn’t right.
“He’s low on confidence, and you can see it,” the interim coach explained. “His club coach (at KV Kortrijk) has just been fired and a new one has come in.
“The relationship between him and the previous coach was not a very good one. I think Lars has got a big knock on his ego and he isn’t the same player we saw banging in the goals when he was in Holland (at PEC Zwolle).
“Lars needs his confidence back, but it more important for him to understand that he is part of us.
“Maybe if we keep calling him up that will help and his new coach will take him seriously because he plays for his country.”