Keep look­ing for Bafana tal­ent at home

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport - @SbongsKaDo­nga Si­bongiseni Gumbi

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.

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