Bafana Bafana star Veldwijk grabs late winner on debut for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

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Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors forward Lars Veldwijk marked his K-League 1 debut with a stoppage-time which goal handed his side a 2-1 away win over Busan IPark at Busan Gudeok Stadium on Saturday.

After missing Jeonbuk Motors’ season opener at home to Suwon Bluewings last weekend, Veldwijk finally made his K-League 1 bow, coming off the bench in the 58th minute to inspire his side to a crucial away victory.

With football on hold in most parts of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 28-year-old became the first South African to return to action, having made his official Jeonbuk Motors debut in the AFC Champions League vs Sydney FC on March 4 before football was suspended. 

This time around, defender Hong Jeong-Ho thrust Jeonbuk Motors ahead 16 minutes into the match off an assist by Song Jun-Ho.

The hosts then replied through substitute Brazilian midfielder Romulo who converted from the penalty spot six minutes after the hour mark.

As the teams were locked at 1-1 and the match seemingly headed for a draw, Veldwijk separated the two sides three minutes into injury time after being set by Han Kyo-Won.

It was Jeonbuk Motors’ second consecutive win after edging Bluewings 1-0 in their first match of the season.

For Busan IPark, it was yet another defeat after losing 2-0 away at Pohang Steelers six days earlier.

After making an impact on his debut, Veldwijk could start in the next match on May 24 at home against Daegu FC who have drawn their two league matches so far.

The 12-team K-League 1 had initially been scheduled to start on February 29 but was postponed due to the pandemic which South Korea has managed to contain.

Some of the measures being taken during matches include each player having their own marked water bottle while excessive spitting, shaking of hands and talking to each other at close range is prohibited.

Journalists are required to stand at least two metres away from players or coaches during post-match interviews, which are strictly held on the pitch.

Veldwijk joined Jeonbuk Motors from Eredivisie side Sparta Rotterdam in January.

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While he was the first South African to return to action, his France-based compatriots Lebo Mothiba, Bongani Zungu, Keagan Dolly and Lebogang Phiri have had their season cancelled.

Also, Percy Tau saw the Belgian football campaign being called-off.

Striker Dino Ndlovu could become the second South African to return to football as the Chinese leagues are also close to a start.