20-year-old Riyaad Norodien had to wait a lot longer to make his senior debut than was originally anticipated due to a long contract dispute, but when he finally featured for Ajax Cape Town in South Africa in April 2015, the youngster who came through the club’s development system made an immediate impression.
Name: Riyaad Norodien
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Ajax Cape Town
It’s not often a player makes as fast an impact in the South African Premier Soccer League as Riyaad Norodien has been able to. He picked up the Man-of-the-Match in his debut game, and Norodien showed it was just the beginning as this was just the first of many such awards in the handful of games he played.
It came as no surprise when in June he was called up to the national u23 team as they prepare to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Norodien may only be 1.68 metres tall, but his size is actually one of his strengths. He has a great low centre of gravity, and is extremely difficult to knock off the ball. Willing to run at defenders and take them on, he uses a great burst of pace and dribbling skills to get himself into good positions, and has an above average passing and crossing ability.
Equally adept on either side of the pitch, or in the middle for that matter, he also packs a decent shot, and is not afraid to try and score from any position.
After a legal battle between his agent and the club, Norodien only debuted in April 2015, two months before the end of the 2014/15 domestic season, eighteen months after he was touted to make his debut.
Norodien has only made nine senior appearances for Ajax Cape Town (six in the league and three cup games). He has however scored twice already in the league, and picked up a few assists in both league and cup games. In fact he was a huge reason why Ajax Cape Town reached the final of the Nedbank Cup (South Africa’s FA Cup).
It is no secret that Norodien was a target for a few domestic clubs, and during his contract dispute, he even trained with other South African PSL clubs. Having made a big impression for the Ajax U19 side, Norodien also caught the eye of mother club Ajax Amsterdam and other European clubs, when the team toured Europe. He has in fact trained in Amsterdam a few times already, and has been linked with a move there since 2012, when he was Ajax Cape Town’s Academy Player of the Year.
Perhaps if not for the dispute between his club and agent, which also effected a few other youth players at the club, he may already have been playing in Europe. Norodien rejoined the Cape Town’s club youth team for their tour of Europe last month, and walked away with the Player of Tournament award at the Ergenzingen Tournament in Germany in May 2015 despite the team losing in the semi-finals on penalties.
“I feel like this isn’t my best, it’s just the hunger bursting out in me. I haven’t had a proper pre-season in a while and it shows in my performances because I get cramps and tired towards the end of the match. But I feel that when I’ve undergone a proper pre-season with the team I can offer so much more. I think it will be a good (next) season for me because I will just have to take off from where I finish this season, much fresher and fit,” Norodien told KickOff in May 2015.