The expectations are always high for Bafana. We are used to it – Veldwijk

Lars Veldwijk. Picture: Soccrates/Getty Images
Lars Veldwijk. Picture: Soccrates/Getty Images

A goal is all that Bafana Bafana needs to get them off the mark at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, says striker Lars Veldwijk.

The 27-year-old is expected to play a part in the team’s second group match against Namibia tonight.

The game at Al Salam Stadium kicks off at 10pm and Bafana require a positive result to keep up with Ivory Coast and Morocco, who are jointly on three points at the top of Group D.

“If we get that one goal, it will release the pressure,” noted Veldwijk, who came in as a second half substitute in Bafana’s 1-0 loss to Ivory Coast on Monday.

“The expectations are always high for Bafana Bafana. It’s nothing new, we are used to that; if you play for your country there is always pressure.

“We will deal with that and hopefully show what we can do against Namibia.”

Lars Veldwijk during Bafana Bafana’s training session at Steyn City School earlier this month. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Coach Stuart Baxter said Veldwijk brings added dimension to the team, notably the marksman’s height to assist in defence as much as he is needed for aerial balls upfront.

“I’m a striker but I will help the team whenever I can. With my height I can also help the team defensively with corner kicks and free kicks.”

Meanwhile, Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti reckons his side can cause an upset in Group D.

“Everyone in this group stands a chance. We’re very positive that we’ll give a good fight and we have a chance of beating South Africa,” warmed Mannetti during the pre-match conference on Thursday.

“The build-up to the match was quite intense. Obviously, most of my players play in South Africa and it’s quite a personal affair.

“We expect proper duels, a little bit of a different game than when we played against Morocco,” he added in reference to their 1-0 defeat last Sunday.

“Even from a tactical point of view we’ll have to change a couple of things. We defended well and kept shape very well against Morocco but I’m still critical of our performance going forward. How we retain and use the ball [against Bafana] will be important. Tomorrow [Tonight] is one of those evenings where we’ll have to grab the three points.”

Read: ‘We’re looking to take points in our next games’: Baxter, Tau react to Bafana loss

Morocco will face Ivory Coast in another group fixture at Al Salam. Their game kicks off 7pm.

One of Lars Veldwijk’s much-talked-about tattoos. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

- Read more about Lars Veldwijk in City Press newspaper on Sunday

- Why he loves his “Malankane” nickname plus how his tattoos contradict his personality

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