Nasief signs with Santander

2009-07-16 00:00

BAFANA Bafana central defender Nasief Morris signed with top Spanish La Liga club Racing Santander for a year on loan yesterday, his agent, Mike Makaab, revealed.

Morris was a stand out player at Recreativo Huelva last season, despite the club being relegated from La Liga. His move to Santander, who fininshed 12th last season, is likely to boost his chances of regaining his place in the Bafana squad.

The defender was axed from South Africa’s Confederations Cup squad by coach Joel Santana for showing up a day late to Bafana’s pre-tournament training camp in May.

Makaab said two South Africans who were part of Bafana’s impressive performance at the Confed, midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi and left-back Tsepo Masilela, could also be on the verge of big European transfers.

“Nasief has joined Racing on a one-year loan from [Greek club] Panathinaikos, with an option at the end of the year to be signed outright for three years,” Makaab said.

“It’s a great move for him. Racing are a big club in Spain who have played 90% of their existence in La Liga. They had a poor campaign last season, but have been working hard to improve on that.

“The move shows that Nasief has established himself in La Liga. He played 37 games out of 38 for Recreativo last season, which made him the most capped outfield player in La Liga.

“He’s glad to be staying in La Liga because he wants to fight to get his Bafana place back. He likes the culture in Spain, and wants to continue playing there even though he had a lot of offers from the Premiership, Germany, and a top, top Russian club.”

Makaab said Dikgacoi will head off for a final test this weekend with Fulham, where he has been viewed as a potential replacement to Senegalese midfielder Papa Bouba Diop. The big Lamontville Golden Arrows player could not get a work permit to join the English Premier League club in the January transfer window and has since been put on a fitness programme and closely monitored by the London team.

“It’s not a fitness test, but a test of whether he has the physicality to be able to play in the Premiership. And if he’s maybe not quite at that level right now, can he get there?” Makaab said. “We’ve also had a lot of interest in Kagisho from other clubs, but I can’t name them.”

While some critics felt Dikgacoi had an average Confed Cup, Makaab said the role the multi-talented midfielder was asked to play by Santana had not made things easy for the player.

“I thought Kagisho had a very adequate Confed Cup. It’s not easy as a holding midfielder to understand what your role should be when you’re playing in a midfield with three defensive midfielders.

“I’m not knocking the coach [Santana], and I know why he did it, but I just don’t think it was easy for Kagisho.”

One player who did shine at the Confed was left-back Masilela, and Makaab said interest has been high in the Israeli-based defender, including from Dutch club FC Twente who on Tuesday signed Bafana striker Bernard Parker.

“Masilela has had massive interest,” Makaab said. “FC Twente have inquired about him and there have also been clubs in the English Premiership and Germany.

“It’s just a matter of finding the right club that suits his interests, and of course a deal that is conducive to his club, Maccabi Haifa.”

Makaab said Bafana’s excellent showing at last month’s Confed has opened doors again for South African players in Europe.

“I really believe Bafana had a fantastic Confed Cup, and it’s changed the way European clubs look at all South African players.”

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