Fancy feet flock to SA
The PSL is one of the most cosmopolitan leagues on the continent, with more than 30 countries represented, writes Timothy Molobi
While most people come south for sunshine and holidays, football players come to South Africa to make a living.
Over the years, many players have trekked to South Africa to try their luck. Some have flourished, winning trophies and admiration from a new set of fans, while others have crashed and burnt before they even got started.
However, most have been successful and nearly everyone has something positive to say about their experience here.
Since the 1970s, during the days of the National Professional Soccer League to the National Soccer League and now the Premier Soccer League (PSL), the country has imported the best players from across the continent to ply their trade here.
This season has been no different, with the likes of Khama Billiat (Zimbabwe), Collins Mbesuma (Zambia), Jeremy Brockie (New Zealand) and Denis Onyango (Uganda) playing up there with the best of them.
These names are presently among the most recognisable to come from outside South Africa’s borders.
It is hardly surprising that three of the top five highest PSL goal scorers are foreigners.
While Mbesuma leads the pack with 14 goals going into the final game of the season, All Whites striker Brockie has also been in the thick of things with 11.
With the number of foreigners in the country, the PSL has and will continue to be the destination of choice for top players.
Currently, each club is limited to a maximum of five foreign players, irrespective of whether or not the players end up leaving the squad during the course of the season.
According to the NSL rules: “No club in the premier division will have more than five registered foreign players during the course of any particular season, even if previously registered foreign players are deregistered during the course of the season.”
A quick glance at the list of foreign players in the league shows that as many as 33 countries were represented this season – from South America and Australasia to Europe.
While the league was previously the chosen one for most African players only, this is no longer the case.
It is not surprising that Zimbabwe still has the highest number of players (19) here, and almost all our clubs have one or more players from our neighbours north of the Limpopo River.
Namibia is not far off with 10 of their players having found themselves clubs in the country. It is closely followed by Malawi and Zambia.
West Africa is also fairly well represented in the league, with seven countries having representatives here.
East Africa has five representatives in the league with players from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.
West and central Africa have one player each from Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
However, it has been a while since we’ve had players from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo-Brazzaville.
North Africa is the only region without a player here because most of its players prefer crossing over to Europe.
In the southern region, it is surprising that neighbour Lesotho has not exported any players this season.
However, the PSL has also seen the arrival of players from Australia and New Zealand.
The arrival of Brockie from New Zealand last year opened doors for his countrymen to come and explore the PSL. At the beginning of the season, there were four players from that region.
South America and Europe are represented by Leonardo Castro from Colombia, Englishman James Keene and Joaquim Lupeta from Portugal. TALK TO US Who has been the best import this season? SMS us on 35697 using the keyword PSL and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50