Safa pledges to find more talent for Bafana in Europe

SA joins rest of Africa on route to naturalisa­tion

- By Sihle Ndebele

The SA Football Associatio­n (Safa ) has intensifie­d its drive to recruit European-based players with Mzansi roots, following in the footsteps of the continent’s giants like Senegal, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia, who are hugely boosted by naturalise­d players.

In 2014, the Moroccan FA launched an intensive naturalisa­tion process to “bring back talents belonging to the soil”.

Senegal, Ghana, Tunisia and Morocco are currently participat­ing in the World Cup in Qatar, where a sizable percentage of their squads is made up of naturalise­d citizens.

Senegal skipper Kalidou Koulibaly is a prime example of this as he was born in France to Senegalese parents, while Moroccan ace Achraf Hakimi was born in Spain, representi­ng the Atlas Lions because his parents are from Morocco.

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, Safa president Danny Jordaan revealed plans were afoot for SA to naturalise European talents with SA links.

“More than 66% players in the African teams at the World Cup are not nationals of those countries,” Jordaan said.

“The naturalisa­tion of players is happening in internatio­nal sport. Even in cricket, how many SA-born players are playing for England?

“[Cricketer] Ben Stokes was born in Australia but is playing for England.

“We are also determined to lure some great talent to play for Bafana.”

One of Jordaan ’ s deputies, Bennet Bailey, is at the forefront of this operation. Bailey confirmed they had already helped budding Dutch striker Simon van Duivembood­en with the process of dual citizenshi­p, hence he’ll be eligible to play for Bafana.

The highly-rated 20-yearold, who is the property of Eredivisie club Vitesse, was born in the Netherland­s to South African parents and has never played for any national team.

“At this moment we are busy helping two players change their citizenshi­ps. The one is Simon, who’s based in the Netherland­s and the other one I don’t have his details yet.

“With Simon, his things are in now (meaning his documents are being processed),” Bailey explained.

“It’s now up to the department of home affairs [to decide if they accept or decline the applicatio­n].

“We are also looking at having a meeting with the department itself because we want to tell them that our plan is to strengthen the pool of players who will play for Bafana.”

In the past, Bafana did find some players in Europe with SA heritage, such as Pierre Issa, Davide Somma, Matty Pattison and Ricardo Nunes.

We’re keen on luring talent for Bafana

 ?? /ANP BART STOUTJEDIJ­K /GETTY IMAGES ?? Dutch-born Simon van Duivenbood­en.
/ANP BART STOUTJEDIJ­K /GETTY IMAGES Dutch-born Simon van Duivenbood­en.

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