Have we dropped the ball?

2012-05-12 19:26

It is hardly surprising that 12 Absa Premiership teams have foreign goalkeepers in their books.

Just like the country is suffering from a dearth of strikers, few good goalkeepers have come up through the ranks recently.

The goalkeeping department is a key position for any side as it is not only the last line of defence, but forms the spine of a team, hence teams go for reliable keepers.

So reliable have the likes of Kennedy Mweene and Greg Etafia been that they became part of the furniture at Free State Stars and Moroka Swallows.

Apart from the butterfingered Englishman Wayne Brown, who cost SuperSport United dearly during his short stint at the former league champions, most goalkeepers have lived up to their billed reputation.

In fact, the number of foreign goalkeepers is 13 in the league if you include Cameroonian Eugene Etame Soppo, who is on loan to Platinum Stars.

Soppo has featured only once for Dikwena this season.

And it would have been 14 had Orlando Pirates not got rid of their Brazilian goalkeeper, Getulio Vargas, whom they signed earlier in the season.

But the Brazilian was shown the door even before he could kick a ball for the Buccaneers.

Only SuperSport, Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates do not have foreign goalkeepers on their books.

Of the 12 goalminders in the league, seven are the first-choice goalkeepers at their teams.

The likes of Mweene, Tapuwa Kapini, Etafia and Patrick Tignyemb have been outstanding and deserve credit for maintaining their good form throughout the years.

Tignyemb’s star at Celtic shone so much that Shuiab Walters had to leave the club in order to find regular game time.

Etafia and Mweene have been loyal servants to their teams, lasting a long time at their first South African clubs.

Etafia has been with Swallows since 2003, while the Africa Cup of Nations champion Mweene joined Stars in 2005.

Before Bidvest Wits enlisted the services of former Bafana Bafana number one Emille Baron, they had Energy Murambadoro as their number one goalie.

And the Zimbabwean still does the job when called upon to perform.

And the same can be said about Francis Chansa, who is on his ninth team since he first came to these shores in 1997.

The much-travelled veteran is equally reliable when called into action at Maritzburg United, as he usually deputises for Walters.

Chansa first played for Durban Bush Bucks before joining Durban United.

He has also featured for Royal Tigers, Golden Arrows, Santos, Orlando Pirates, Wits and Mpumalanga Black Aces.

But while it has become a trend for other teams to go outside the country’s borders to find goalkeepers, local has proved to have been lekker for Pirates and Chiefs as it has been a while since two South African top teams have had a foreign goalkeeper in their books.

It is not surprising though as the two boast the country’s number one and number two goalkeepers in Itumeleng Khune and Moeneeb Josephs.

Austrian Markus Bocskor, whose arrival coincided with Khune’s rise, was the last foreign goalkeeper in Chiefs books and Pirates’ last ­non-South African goalie was Chansa.

Cape side Santos have usually relied on local goalkeepers to mind the sticks. Tshepo Motsoeneng was reliable to the point that his name was singled out for Bafana selection.

However, his form fell away to such an extent that Santos went through Ryan Harrison and Lee Langeveldt before settling on Gambian giant Pa Dembo Touray.

Like strikers, foreign goalkeepers are not a novelty in South African football.

In the mid-1990s, Pirates had Ivor Simunic and Nigerian Williams Okpara battling for the number one spot, before Okpara set out his stall.

Namibian Ronnie Kanalelo was for some time Mamelodi Sundowns’ number one before the club recruited Paul Evans.

Botende Eshele did not disappoint at Chiefs during his stint there, but his stay was cut short by the emergence of Brian Baloyi.

Not all foreign imports have done their countries proud. Examples are Mayala Makweni, who besides spectacular gaffes and even better penalty saves, did not contribute much to Pirates’ cause.

Namibian Virgil Vries will always be remembered for his Paul Robinson moment for Arrows against AmaZulu late last year.

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