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

CityPress - - Sport -

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

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