Local players find it difficult to make the grade at top European clubs, says Timothy Molobi
South Africa has some of the most talented soccer players in Africa, but the number of players who ply their trade overseas has dropped drastically over the years.
Even with an overseas agent, Itumeleng Khune failed to secure an overseas move.
Khune, whose agent also represents Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney, is still struggling to find a club after parting ways with Kaizer Chiefs.
Former Chiefs captain Tefu Mashamaite also recently failed to secure a contract with Major League Soccer side New York City – after the 30-year-old central defender underwent a 10-day assessment in the US.
This week, Bafana Bafana captain Dean Furman was turned down by English Championship side Blackburn Rovers, and he is now searching for a new home.
Former Bafana captain Bongani Khumalo is now training with his former club SuperSport United after his contract with English side Tottenham Hotspur came to an end.
Well-known South African football agents Mike Makaab and Glyn Binkin said it was more difficult to export players these days.
Binkin, who represented Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish and Phil “Chippa” Masinga, said: “I believe players were a lot hungrier for success abroad in the past.
Previously, playing abroad meant learning a new language, adopting a new culture and accepting extreme climates but they earned good money.
“Nowadays, players can earn well by playing in South Africa where the standard is probably not nearly as high as it is in leading European territories.”
Binkin added that “the cream will rise to the top” and strong players who were prepared to make sacrifices could play abroad if they wanted to.
Makaab said: “It is much more difficult [to negotiate deals with overseas clubs], given the overall increase in packages of players in the PSL.
“In addition, South African players are competing with their counterparts from South America, Eastern Europe and other parts for a place in mainstream Europe. We will lose our competitive edge unless transfer fees and player expectations are realistic.”
He added: “European clubs are wary of signing African players directly from the continent at high packages as they are not sure how they will settle in a strange environment.
“They [clubs] far prefer to sign players at a younger age or those who have already proven themselves in Europe.”
Makaab said South Africa still had soccer talent but “it just needs to be developed and nurtured in the right manner”.
Thulani Serero, for example, joined respected overseas side Ajax Amsterdam in 2011.
Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Andile Jali left early last year to join KV Oostende in Belgium, where quite a few South Africans are based.
Last month, former Ajax Cape Town, Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United winger Sameehg Doutie joined the relatively unknown Indian Premier League side Atlético de Kolkata.
Tokelo Rantie is the only addition to the English Premiership after his side Bournemouth was promoted at the end of last season. He joins Steven Pienaar who plays for Everton.
Kagisho Dikgacoi is still with Championship side Cardiff City with Kgosi Ntlhe playing for English League One side Peterborough.
Benni McCarthy remains the last player to have played in the Spanish La Liga and the Portuguese leagues.
Tsepo Masilela also had a stint in the La Liga.
Daylon Claasen is the sole representative at the German Bundesliga, albeit in the second division where he turns out for 1860 München.
TALK TO US: Why don’t more SA players make it to top European leagues?