Mark Gleeson

Bafana striker cupboard bare

2010-10-18 08:03
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Have you pondered the possibility Katlego Mphela gets injured, or suspended, in the coming matches and is unavailable to play in key Bafana Bafana games in the immediate future?

If so, you will realise our national side will be deep in the dwang. At the moment, he is the only recognised striker we have and if sidelined, the attack will be threadbare.

Benni McCarthy is no longer in the picture; Bernard Parker is more of an attacking midfield and the third option, Stembiso Ngcobo, still trying to find his way at the highest level. The new Kaizer Chiefs signing might have scored on his Bafana Bafana debut last year but he has not exactly set alight the Premier Soccer League over the last two seasons.

Then there is Kermit Erasmus, earmarked as one for the future but who cannot get into the starting line-up at SuperSport United because they prefer to play imports from Angola and Ethiopia.

The national side treading in potential quicksand as a result of years of under development of local strikers and the shortsightedness of our leading football officials could likely come back to haunt.

The paucity of talent is the fault of the clubs, who long ago upped the number of foreign players allowed per Premier Soccer League team from three to five so that they could all buy instant success.

It is particularly in the forward department where all South Africa clubs have sought to buy supposedly already-finished products, from around Africa and destinations as diverse as Venezuela, rather than nurture their own talent and now we pay the price.

It is time now for the 16 PSL clubs to consider the greater good of South African soccer, from which they too ultimately benefit handsomely.

Restrictions on the growingly mediocre cast of foreigners who play in the PSL must be brought in and implemented as soon as possible, from next season at least.

For a start, let us go back to a maximum of three foreign players per clubs. And a further restriction on players who have become naturalised South Africans, but are still ineligible to play for Bafana Bafana because they have represented other countries at full international level. This conversion over the years effectively means some clubs have many more than their quota of five foreigners.

Ironically, if you look at the list of all the foreigners in the league across all 16 clubs you’d be hard pressed to find a side who regularly uses more than three per game anyway.

Around the world, there is growing concern over development of local talent. Many league have brought in restrictions, England for example with some drastic measure because they have a similar crisis to that of Bafana Bafana.

Here in South Africa, restrictions have already been put in place in the National First Division and a quota of age group players imposed in the Vodacom League. These are positive measures but the lead really should come from the professional clubs, who are still reluctant.

Local players must be given a chance to play in the PSL and develop their potential at the highest level. It is criminal to stymie their potential by using mediocre players from elsewhere on the continent.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

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.

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