Bafana Bafana

A foreign star who could play for Bafana

Leonardo Castro (Supplied)
Leonardo Castro (Supplied)

Cape Town - When the PSL this week released a list of players who are registered with the league's clubs a good many of the foreign stars like Mamelodi Sundowns' impish Khama Billiat, Anthony Laffor and Tapuwa Kapini were listed as South Africans.

This was due to the fact that after spending some time in South Africa they had fulfilled the requirements of permanent citizens.

However, while Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba recently declared he would dearly have loved to have a player with PSL "Footballer of the Year".

Billiat's inventive scoring skills, for one, in his squad, there is no foreseeable chance of the diminutive, mesmerising Zimbabwean or most of the other South African adoptees appearing in a Bafana jersey.

This is because of the unequivocal ruling by FIFA that once a player represents a country at senior international level, he cannot switch his allegiance to another country except, for example, under extraordinary circumstances - like becoming a refugee from the current civil war catastrophe in Syria.

But one player of note who could escape the impregnable FIFA international registration net and play for South Africa is top-scoring Mamelodi Sundowns striker Leonardo Castro - and this because he has not represented Colombia, the country of his birth, in a full-scale international fixture.

Conspicuous examples of players competing  internationally for other than the countries of their birth are Brazil-born, Chelsea striker Diego Costa, who represents Spain, and fellow-Brazilian Pepe, currently with Spanish giants Real Madrid, who has been a regular in the Portuguese national squad for a number of years.

Mashaba may not have the option of selecting a Billiat, but Castro is a different kettle of fish - and the Colombian-born striker is well-equipped with the kind of composure and calculated finishing absent in the Bafana ranks for so long.

Meanwhile the PSL has confirmed that its registration rulings do give clubs additional leeway in extending the proviso whereby teams can have no more than five foreign players on their books.

So with Billiat, Liberian Laffor and Ugandan goalkeeper Dennis Onyango all registered by the PSL as South Africans, the Brazilians have the option of signing five more players from outside of South Africa to augment what is already a formidable list of players.

And, theoretically, Sundowns could take this to its ultimate level and include eight players with experience of top-level soccer from outside the country in their line-up at a given time.

Billiat, Laffor, Kapini, Onyango and others now registered as South Africans also remain eligible to represent their respective countries of origin at international level.

And Billiat, for one, is sure to be included in the Zimbabwean squad for next year's AFCON
Finals in Gabon - where South Africa failed to qualify in any case.

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