S'Busiso Mseleku

SA players make desperate moves

2015-08-17 14:13
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

Former Kaizer Chiefs players Tefu Mashamaite and Mandla Masango made the headlines once more last week.

The pair, together with goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, have been hogging the headlines since early this year when it emerged that their contracts with The Glamour Boys were coming to an end in June.

Last week's latest news was that Mashamaite had joined Swedish club BK Hacken on a two-and-a-half year contract and Masango had penned a three-year contract with Denmark's Randers FC.

Around almost the same time (or week rather) that news of the two former Chiefs players broke, Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Arouna Kone (Everton) both from Ivory Coast, Algerian Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Rudy Gestede, (Aston Villa) from Benin, Nigerian Odion Ighalo (Watford), Ghanaian Andre Ayew (Swansea) and the Senegalese pair of Papiss Cisse (Newcastle) and Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham United) made headlines of their own.

All these African players scored important goals for their Premier League clubs in the opening weekend of the season.

Now - here is the contrast - while players that we regard as top quality in our country sign for clubs that hardly make any waves in Europe - you'll agree that the names BK Hacken and Randers FC do not feature prominently in the Champions League.

Also, Denmark and Sweden hardly feature high up on the list of the top European leagues.

So the question becomes: Have our players become so desperate to move to Europe that any destination will do?

As things stand, South Africa only has two players - Steven Pienaar (Everton) and Tokelo Rantie (newly-promoted Bournemouth) - in the top flight in England.

The rest, such as Bafana Bafana default captain Dean Furman (who was with Doncaster Rovers but is now said to be training with SuperSport United), Kagisho Dikgacoi and Kgosi Ntlhe, ply their trade in the English Championship and League One in that country.

We also have Thulani Serero - whom I rate as the best South African player currently - and Kamohelo Mokotjo playing in the Dutch League.

Other South African players are spread across not-so-strong European leagues such as in Belgium and other God-forsaken places that rarely grab international headlines.

To his credit, Mashamaite has said that his move was not about money - it's said he will  earn around R144 000 per month - but a fulfillment of a promise he made to himself that he will one day play in Europe.

Be that as it may be, I think his and Masango's moves smack of desperation and I doubt it's worth the sacrifices of uprooting yourself, adjusting to a new culture and withstanding the mostly cold European weather.

One just hopes that it eventually turns out to be a step to better leagues and not just a continuation of South African players moving overseas just for the sake of crossing some ocean.

Until South African players move to top leagues such as the EPL, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, the German Bundesliga or even the French Ligue 1, Bafana Bafana will struggle against their African opposition that boasts players in such leagues.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    bafana bafana  |  s'busiso mseleku  |  soccer

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