Rivaldo Coetzee will be leaving Ajax Cape Town. Photo: Chris Ricco, BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – At last, some joy for Rivaldo Coetzee in what has been a traumatic 2016/17 season.

Mamelodi Sundowns announced late on Thursday night that the Bafana Bafana defender has signed for the African champions.

In a swap deal, 29-year-old defender Mario Booysen will rejoin Ajax from Sundowns on a three-year contract.

The 20-year-old Coetzee, who hails from Kakamas in the Northern Cape, has had a tumultuous season after finishing off the previous one as the Player of the Year at Ajax Cape Town.

Following his off-season break, Coetzee went AWOL for a few weeks as negotiations for a better deal, or a move away, from the Urban Warriors stalled.

It resulted in an impasse between the two parties until Coetzee resurfaced at Ajax’s headquarters Ikamva in Parow.

He apologised for his actions, but had to train with the Under-19s initially before returning to the first team.

Coetzee even scored his only goal for Ajax to secure a 1-1 draw against Golden Arrows, and suddenly, his graph moved upwards rapidly as word spread that Scottish giants Celtic were lining up a deal.

The move was all but sealed, with Ajax announcing the transfer with great fanfare. But it was subject to a medical and Coetzee acquiring a work permit, and the whole thing collapsed after Celtic found that there was an “underlying problem with his right foot”.

His dream had been shattered, and he was withdrawn from the Bafana Bafana squad the next day for the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Cape Verde.

But the sun has come up again in Coetzee’s world, with Masandawana revealing that they have acquired his signature just before the end of the transfer window.

Perhaps Coetzee was meant to first conquer Africa with Sundowns, before beginning his European quest…

“Coetzee visited two orthopedic surgeons that specialise in foot and ankle injuries this week, and following further investigation, the medical specialists found that contrary to reports, his suspected foot injury wasn’t as serious as initially reported,” Ajax Cape Town said in a statement late on Thursday night.

“(The) above-mentioned specialists came to the conclusion that – if managed properly – Rivaldo will only miss between 6-8 weeks of action.

“Ajax Cape Town are disappointed that Coetzee’s dream move to Europe failed to come to fruition, but we are confident that he will soon find himself plying his trade in the biggest leagues in world football.”


IOL Sport