Stellenbosch FC star Ashley Du Preez's maiden Bafana Bafana call-up has been a long time coming according to club coach Steve Barker.
Du Preez was handed his first call-up to the South Africa national team earlier this week after being named in coach Hugo Broos' preliminary squad for next month's 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Morocco and Zimbabwe.
The 24-year-old inclusion in the 38-man squad comes on the back of a stellar campaign with high-flying Stellies in which the pacey forward has played a hand in 12 goals (nine goals and three assists) in 28 league appearances so far.
His impressive form, which included a brace in Saturday's 3-0 win over champions Mamelodi Sundowns, has contributed toward the club climbing to fifth in the DStv Premiership standings where they boast a club-record 47 points, with one match still in hand.
"Ashley has been knocking on the door for a while now," Barker told Kick Off on Tuesday when asked about the homegrown talent's call-up. "He is one of those players who's really difficult to play against if used correctly.
"He can be a player, whether starting or coming on [as a substitute] at a Bafana level, who can add something different to the team when required... He used to come and train with us when I was still with coach Sammy [Troughton] five years back and he was a youngster so he's been with the club for many years.
"He has sacrificed a lot, trained hard and worked hard, and he is really committed so I’m delighted for him that he is getting his opportunity."
With Du Preez's performances having finally caught the attention of national team selectors, the player himself was also quick to share his delight after receiving his maiden call up to the Bafana Bafana squad.
"I'm very excited, to be honest," he shared. "It's an honour to play for Bafana Bafana and I've been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. So, I'm very happy and very excited at the same time."
Du Preez and Stellenbosch will both be in action again this coming weekend when the club plays host to Cape Town rivals Cape Town City FC at the Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Ashley Du Preez on his Bafana Bafana call-up, beating Mamelodi Sundowns and this weekend's Cape Town derby