Why are SA players failing overseas?

2010-09-19 17:42

Six soccer players have ­returned to South Africa after failing to crack it overseas, adding to the growing influx.

The returnees are Kermit ­Erasmus, Philani Khwela, Bradley Carnell (all with SuperSport United), Bryce Moon (Golden Arrows), Sibusiso Zuma (Vasco da Gama) and Stanton Fredericks (Bidvest Wits).

They join a growing list of players that includes Siyabonga Nkosi, Siyabonga Nomvethe, Nathan Paulse and Thembinkosi Fanteni, who all came back last season.

And to add to the disturbing trend, the number of overseas-based South African players playing regular football is alarmingly low.

National coach Pitso Mosimane attributes this to a number of factors which ­include inadequate mental strength and that there is no proper support structure for players once they move ­overseas.

Mosimane said this could hurt the local game as players needed exposure to the rigours of international football in ­order to benefit Bafana Bafana.

He said this was cause for concern if it continued as it would affect the quality of the national team in the future.

“It is not a secret that the more players we have playing in competitive leagues abroad, the better the quality of the team (Bafana),” said Mosimane.

He said, however, that what mattered most was whether players were getting game time or not.

“It is difficult in Europe and you have to look after yourself. You are often lonely and you must have character to make it. It is the survival of the fittest out there. But the big question should be: Are they going to the right clubs or not?” asked Mosimane, who played in Greece at the height of his career.

He said it was important for players to go to clubs where they would play and not just warm the bench, adding that it was advisable for players to feature for junior national teams and Bafana as they would get to meet different countries and play in different conditions, thus preparing them for the future.

“I will be the first one to encourage players to go overseas, but they must play because we want players who are active. Those who warm the bench would jeopardise their position in the team. It does not matter where you play as long as you can deliver – then you will be in the team,” he said.

Former Bafana captain Steve Komphela, who played in Turkey for seven years, said he was also concerned about the growing trend of players coming back home.

He said it was not sending a good message to the outside world. “You need to be patient and to sacrifice a lot if you want to survive outside your country, but due to lack of proper development and desire, our players chicken out easily.

“There is no place like home and our country is quite comfortable; hence some players would rather live in comfort than sacrifice,” said Komphela.

A few players such as Siboniso Gaxa and Lance Davids have bucked the trend, though, by joining Lierse SK in Belgium.

Also out to prove their worth in the European leagues are former Bidvest Wits players, defender Patrick Phungwayo and striker Calvin Kadi, who joined Panionios of Greece and Portugal’s Portimonense respectively.

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