Soccer

Africa's superstars too good, too expensive, for SA

02 September 2018 - 00:00 By SAZI HADEBE

There was once a time when classy footballers from the western, central and eastern parts of the African continent were household names in the top flight of SA football. But, sadly, these days you'll struggle to find any of those gems.
Players such as Eshele Botende and Bunene Ngaduane from Kinshasa in Congo, Ernest Mtawali from Malawi and later Raphael Chukwu and Williams Okpara from Nigeria, Musa Otieno from Kenya and Roger Feutmba from Cameroon are just a few who used to grace our shores.
The question is why the Premier Soccer League teams are no longer teeming with such quality players from all corners of our continent.
The Sunday Times canvassed the opinions of former Mamelodi Sundowns midfield maestro Feutmba, former Tembisa Classic and Moroka Swallows goalkeeper Idah Peterside and SA football coach and analyst Zipho Dlangalala to find answers.
Both Peterside and Dlangalala agreed that the lack of standard and quality in the PSL is the main reason why players no longer rate the PSL among the best on the continent.
"Let's be honest," said Peterside. "How many games in the PSL are of sub-standard quality?
"The truth of the matter is that most of them are poor and good players from the west, east and central Africa and their representatives hardly look at the PSL as a gateway to greener pastures as might have been the case not so long ago."
Dlangalala echoes Peterside's sentiments, saying there's no way one can put a gloss over the standard of the PSL.
"Our standard of football lacks a lot in quality nowadays," said Dlangalala.
"You take the issue of the number of goals that are scored in the PSL: it actually boils down to technique or the lack of it.
"You take the issue of Thamsanqa Gabuza, for instance. It actually starts from the question of whether our players - regardless of the positions they play on the field - have the technique.
"The Gabuzas are the ones more exposed because they have the burden of scoring the goals, but the problem doesn't start and end with them."
Dlangalala further argues that no quality player would want to come and play where the standard is as low as that of the PSL.
Feutmba seems to agree with the two, but adds that the opportunities to go to Europe for African players are wide open these days, more than they were in their time.
"Quality players on the continent, even in SA, are identified at a younger age. There are so many SA players that we only come to know about when they are already in Europe. They no longer use the PSL to expose their talent," said the former Cameroon international.
Peterside highlights the issue of transfer fees as proving too steep for most PSL teams as quality players from West Africa may cost as much as R30m.
"Leave the standard aside, but tell me how many PSL teams can afford that? Even Sundowns are going to South America these days because players are a lot more cheaper there than in West Africa," he said.
Dlangalala said to regain the quality the PSL once had we'll have to go back to the basics of playing football our own way.
"Football is like a dance - you can't dance the way you were never taught at a younger age," he concluded...

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