Mark Gleeson

Home products make SA proud

2011-07-25 07:59
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

As is the case with the Premier Soccer League, football in Europe is standing by to begin a new campaign in the coming weeks.

More South Africans have been transferred to clubs in Europe over the last weeks than since the heady days following the 1996 African Nations Cup triumph. But unlike then, many of them are untested going straight overseas without even playing any PSL football.

Among them is the exciting prospect, the 18-year-old Ayana Patosi, who was the star of the recent Bayhill tournament and now preparing to debut at Lokeren in Belgium.

There could be more to come with another five weeks before the close of the transfer window. Katlego Mphela is trialing in Scotland and there remains a chance Morgan Gould could still make a move.

The biggest off-season transfer is that of Thulani Serero, who Ajax Amsterdam have bought and who will soon see UEFA Champions League.

Yesterday I watched him play him play his first game at the futuristic Amsterdam Arena, turning himself into a overnight star with a sublime display.

He came on at half-time and in 15 minutes had set up a hat-trick for a team-mate and won himself the man of the match awards. Clever touches, incisive passes and a performance brimming with confidence suggests that the PSL’s best player last season is going to be a sensation.

He is just one of the home products making South Africa proud.

On Thursday last, I went to the Belgian Super Cup and was thrilled to see the influence, maturity and leadership that Anele Ngcongca brought to the Racing Genk side as they won the trophy. Tomorrow night they play in the UEFA Champions League, seeking to get into the lucrative league stage later on.

These are players who have overcome the obstacle of language, culture and homesickness to impose themselves in alien places. When Ngcongca left the stadium after the game after showing and changing, a swarm of people engulfed him for autographs and pictures at the end of the game. Little scenarios like that make it clear just how well they are doing.

I have no doubt there will be others whose performances will make their names too and continue to enhance the reputation of PSL’s products. Non South African exports from the league like Eyong Enoh and, possibly in the next days, Knowledge Musona also attest to the growing standards of the league in our country.

Playing club football overseas is no child’s pay. The professionalism demands a seriousness, a consistency and a deep desire. Not everyone has those qualities and will therefore make it. A stubborn determination is in the eyes of Serero and Ngcongca is what is driving them to success.

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

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.

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