Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns' Rivaldo Coetzee says centre-back is still his preferred position despite being deployed in central midfield in recent times.
In his first game as a central midfielder for Sundowns in a 2-1 victory over Black Leopards towards the end of last season, Coetzee scooped the man-of-the-match award, prompting coach Pitso Mosimane to praise his qualities as a number eight.
The Cape Town-born Bafana Bafana man lined up in a three-man midfield alongside Andile Jali and Pitso Mkhulisi in a 1-1 draw with Botswanan side Jwaneng Galaxy in a pre-season friendly last Saturday, which is perhaps a sign that Mosimane is going to use him in this role for the upcoming season.But while the 22-year-old is happy to help the team in whichever way he can, he maintains that he prefers to play at the heart of the defence."They say I am a midfielder now but I am a centre-back. That's where I prefer to play," said Coetzee.
"But I am ready to help the team if they need me to play in midfield. I will do so but I prefer to play at the back. We will see."
Coetzee made his name as a centre-back at hometown club Ajax Cape Town, making his debut as a 17-year-old and going on to win the club's player of the season award as well as earning his first cap for Bafana - which at the time made him the youngest ever player to represent the national team.
And he has shed some light on why he finds playing in midfield more challenging, while admitting it is something that he will have to get used to.
"They have tried a couple of times at training to see how I deal with it. Since I am a centre-back, I am not used to people pressing me at the back. It's something I have to get used to," Coetzee added.
"When the coach asks you to play in the position, you have to do it for the club and for yourself as well. I didn't know I could play there but he threw me in there and I am happy that I repaid that faith he showed in me."