CAPE TOWN – Rivaldo Coetzee’s dream of playing football in Europe will soon be realised.
On Monday night, Ajax Cape Town announced that a deal had been concluded with Scottish champions Glasgow Celtic.
The 20-year-old central defender, who was on Monday also named in the Bafana Bafana squad for the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde, will, however, first have to pass a medical and acquire a work permit.
In principle, though, an agreement between Ajax and Celtic has been reached.
An overseas transfer is what Coetzee has always wanted, ever since he made the trek from Kakamas in the Northern Cape to the Cape club’s youth academy.
Always highly touted as a junior, Coetzee made his PSL debut at the age of 17, and that very same season he was also called up to the Bafana squad.
At the time, he was the youngest ever Bafana squad member, only for the record to broken soon after by Santos striker Fagrie Lakay.
After performing with distinction for club and country over the last few seasons, the ambitious Coetzee, it would appear, became rather frustrated.
As such, he failed to pitch for pre-season training at Ajax two months ago; the move was designed to force the Cape club’s management into some sort of action with regard to a high-profile transfer.
Fortunately, the young defender came to his senses, realising that his stand-off with the club wasn’t very professional.
He met with the club, everything was sorted out, and Coetzee returned to training.
And, just to prove his immense potential and value to a team, when Ajax went 1-0 down to Golden Arrows in their opening PSL match at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night, it was Coetzee who popped up with the equaliser. It was his first-ever goal in the PSL.
Ajax coach Stanley Menzo admitted that because Coetzee had missed three weeks of pre-season training, he wasn’t fully fit.
But the former Ajax Amsterdam and Netherlands goalkeeper still selected the defender, and the player demonstrated in no uncertain terms just why he is one of the most promising talents in the country.
Now, having landed a transfer to Celtic – one of the big names in European football –and where he will work with former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, Coetzee has an opportunity to test himself at a higher level.
Celtic look set to compete in the Uefa Champions League, having defeated FC Astana 5-0 in the first leg last week. The Scots are currently in Kazakhstan for this week’s second leg.
Coetzee is set to jet off to Scotland later this week for the medical and to meet up with his new teammates.
As usual, in South African football, transfer amounts are never mentioned.
But, according to Scottish newspapers, Celtic have paid £800 000 (about R13 million) for Coetzee’s services.
“Everyone is extremely proud to see one of our own take the next step in their football career. Good Luck & make us proud Riva!” Ajax Cape Town stated via Twitter.