SA play­ers not good enough?

Lo­cal play­ers find it dif­fi­cult to make the grade at top Euro­pean clubs, says Ti­mothy Molobi

CityPress - - Sport -

South Africa has some of the most tal­ented soc­cer play­ers in Africa, but the num­ber of play­ers who ply their trade over­seas has dropped dras­ti­cally over the years. Even with an over­seas agent, Itume­leng Khune failed to se­cure an over­seas move. Khune, whose agent also rep­re­sents Manch­ester United cap­tain Wayne Rooney, is still strug­gling to find a club af­ter part­ing ways with Kaizer Chiefs.

For­mer Chiefs cap­tain Tefu Mashamaite also re­cently failed to se­cure a con­tract with Ma­jor League Soc­cer side New York City – af­ter the 30-year-old cen­tral de­fender un­der­went a 10-day as­sess­ment in the US.

This week, Bafana Bafana cap­tain Dean Fur­man was turned down by English Cham­pi­onship side Black­burn Rovers, and he is now search­ing for a new home.

For­mer Bafana cap­tain Bongani Khu­malo is now train­ing with his for­mer club Su­perS­port United af­ter his con­tract with English side Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur came to an end.

Well-known South African football agents Mike Makaab and Glyn Binkin said it was more dif­fi­cult to ex­port play­ers these days.

Binkin, who rep­re­sented Lu­cas Radebe, Mark Fish and Phil “Chippa” Masinga, said: “I be­lieve play­ers were a lot hun­grier for suc­cess abroad in the past. Pre­vi­ously, play­ing abroad meant learn­ing a new lan­guage, adopt­ing a new cul­ture and ac­cept­ing ex­treme cli­mates but they earned good money.

“Nowa­days, play­ers can earn well by play­ing in South Africa where the stan­dard is prob­a­bly not nearly as high as it is in lead­ing Euro­pean ter­ri­to­ries.”

Binkin added that “the cream will rise to the top” and strong play­ers who were pre­pared to make sac­ri­fices could play abroad if they wanted to.

Makaab said: “It is much more dif­fi­cult [to ne­go­ti­ate deals with over­seas clubs], given the over­all in­crease in pack­ages of play­ers in the PSL.

“In ad­di­tion, South African play­ers are com­pet­ing with their coun­ter­parts from South Amer­ica, Eastern Europe and other parts for a place in main­stream Europe. We will lose our com­pet­i­tive edge un­less trans­fer fees and player ex­pec­ta­tions are re­al­is­tic.”

He added: “Euro­pean clubs are wary of sign­ing African play­ers di­rectly from the con­ti­nent at high pack­ages as they are not sure how they will set­tle in a strange en­vi­ron­ment.

“They [clubs] far pre­fer to sign play­ers at a younger age or those who have al­ready proven them­selves in Europe.”

Makaab said South Africa still had soc­cer tal­ent but “it just needs to be de­vel­oped and nur­tured in the right man­ner”.

Thu­lani Serero, for ex­am­ple, joined re­spected over­seas side Ajax Am­s­ter­dam in 2011.

For­mer Or­lando Pi­rates midfielder Andile Jali left early last year to join KV Oos­tende in Bel­gium, where quite a few South Africans are based.

Last month, for­mer Ajax Cape Town, Or­lando Pi­rates and Su­perS­port United winger Sameehg Doutie joined the rel­a­tively un­known In­dian Premier League side Atlético de Kolkata.

Tokelo Rantie is the only ad­di­tion to the English Premier­ship af­ter his side Bournemouth was pro­moted at the end of last sea­son. He joins Steven Pien­aar who plays for Ever­ton.

Kag­isho Dik­ga­coi is still with Cham­pi­onship side Cardiff City with Kgosi Ntlhe play­ing for English League One side Peterborough.

Benni McCarthy re­mains the last player to have played in the Span­ish La Liga and the Por­tuguese leagues. Tsepo Masilela also had a stint in the La Liga. Day­lon Claasen is the sole rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the Ger­man Bun­desliga, al­beit in the sec­ond di­vi­sion where he turns out for 1860 München.

PHOTO: MITCHELL LEFF / GETTY IM­AGES

IN THE LEAGUE

Tokelo Rantie plays in the English Premier­ship

PHOTO: VI IM­AGES / GETTY IM­AGES

TOP GRADE Thu­lani Serero joined re­spected over­seas club Ajax Am­s­ter­dam in 2011

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