Keep looking for Bafana talent at home
The heartache that was brought to us by a player who was sold to us as the next best defender since Neil Tovey back in 1998 is not yet fully healed. I say this because every time I hear a Bafana Bafana coach speak of scurrying to Europe in search of players with South African roots, memories of Pierre Issa come flooding back.
Issa sold us cheaper than a nyaope boy would sell your expensive phone when he scored two goals in the opening match against France, a country he was born and raised in by South African parents – or something related which made him eligible for Bafana.
It was a cheap argument and may still be but we felt those own goals were not entirely accidental with Thierry Henry adding a third in the 2-0 defeat. This is why I am very skeptical when I hear of a new find overseas.
I know there have been those who have been huge successes like Hans Vonk who remains one of the best keepers we have had at Bafana and recently Dean Furman. The two became beautiful stories made more special by their willingness to come back home and play in the local league, showing that even though they were brought up elsewhere, South Africa was etched in their hearts.
But there have been more failures than successes. Gordon Igesund – who I must credit for finding Furman by the way – once called up Kgosi Nthle who we were told was the best right back since the late Sizwe Motaung. But he didn’t make the cut in the end. There was also David Somma at some point. And recently Lars Weldwyk.
To prove my sceptism, I was among – if not the first – people to doubt Kaizer Chiefs’ new find Kyrean Baccus after just one game. The South African-born Australian had a horrible debut for Amakhosi against Highlands Park and he couldn’t keep up with the pace of the game and was substituted at half time. But he has since shown to be quite a good find and has become a key player for the side.
Now Molefi Ntseki is also following in the footsteps of those before him and trekking to Europe, more specifically England, to try, where Thomas Barkhuizen is said to be having a good season for Preston North End in the English Championship. His two main concerns with Bafana is the striking department and holding midfield roles which is where he believes we are very thin.
But in central midfield we have the likes of Thabo Nodada of Cape Town City and Sami Seabi of Sundowns who have not been given a look in as yet.
Up front, he hasn’t used Kermit Erasmus as yet and there is also a Tshegofatso Mabasa who looks rather promising. But perhaps these don’t fit the profile of what he is looking for which gives him all the right to go out there and try to find the perfect fits.
The coaches’ obsession with European-based players is justified if you look back at Bafana’s most successful teams from 1996 to 2002/3. Those teams were dominated by European-based players but the difference was that most of them had moved there from SA. We are now not exporting as many players as we used to. Okay, maybe the numbers are not that low but the quality of the leagues our players play in now is not the same as back then.
But maybe Ntseki needs to remember to look at the continent as well to ensure that the situation we had with Cyril Chibwe does not happen again. If there are players in Zambia, Zimbabwe or Nigeria with South African lineage, we need to find them early and make an effort to profile them as well.
Well, in case you didn’t know, Chibwe is the Polokwane City keeper who Bafana narrowly missed out on as Zambia claimed him first. His mother is South African and he was born and raised on our shores. Who knows – there could be even more like him.