Lars Veldwijk waiting on Bafana Bafana recall after prolific 2021 season

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Nearly three years since winning his last Bafana Bafana cap, Lars Veldwijk is hopeful of earning a recall after ending the 2021 calendar year as the highest-scoring South African in the world.

Veldwijk enjoyed a prolific year in 2021 during which he recorded 18 goals and six assists at club level for South Korea K League 1 side, Suwon FC, and ended the domestic season as the division's second-highest goalscorer.

His tally, which was achieved in 37 matches across all competitions, saw him end the calendar year with more goals and goal contributions than any other South African player in top-flight leagues around the world.

Scroll through the gallery above to see South Africa's leading goalscorers in 2021

Despite his proficiency in front of goal, the Dutch-born striker was overlooked for selection for South Africa's failed FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, in which the national team scored just six goals across six matches and failed to progress beyond the group stage.

The 30-year-old won the last of his seven caps as a late substitute in Bafana Bafana's quarter-final defeat to Nigeria at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt but even then found himself under-utilised by the national team management.

"For me, every time I was called up, even at the Africa Cup of Nations, I didn't get the game time that a striker needs," Veldwijk tells Kickoff.

"I can't show people what I can do with that. I've earned seven caps for South Africa, but it doesn't feel like seven. It was always such a short time on the pitch and that makes it difficult to prove to be people that I can be helpful to the team."

Indeed, the former Sparta Rotterdam star has enjoyed just 124 minutes of pitch-time across his seven outings in the gold and green, in which he was handed a start just twice and never completed a full 90-minute match.

Nonetheless, Veldwijk remains fully committed to his adoptive country and insists that he will make himself available to coach Hugo Broos for national team duty until the day he one day decides to hang up his boots from all football.

"...I haven't had contact with anyone from SAFA or the new coach, which is a bit disappointing," he adds. "But I will be available until the day I retire, and I will never retire from international football until the day I retire from professional football altogether.

"Even if I am 35 I don't know if they will still want me then but they can call me up if they need me. I think the coach knows of me and I am available, so it's up to him and the people of SAFA if they think they need me for the [2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations] qualifiers [later this year].

"All I can do is focus on my club and on performing well during the season. If the chance comes to get another call-up from South Africa, I will come, and hopefully, I will finally be able to prove that I can help the team."

This article is adapted from the full interview with Lars Veldwijk in the March edition of Kick Off Magazine. The latest copy can be purchased online or in store for R25 and includes more great content on Veldwijk's history with Bafana Bafana, his remarkable form with Suwon FC in South Korea and the prospects of playing in the PSL.