Zungu: How playing abroad has helped

Bafana Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu

Bafana Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu has revealed how plying his trade in Portugal has helped improve his game, speaking ahead of the AFCON qualifier against Nigeria on Saturday.

The 24-year-old midfielder has been included in Stuart Baxter’s 25-man squad that will do duty against The Super Eagles, and the former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder says that he has improved aspects of his game since last appearing for the national team almost two years ago.

“When you play that side you get to improve as a player, you play in hostile stadiums and that builds character,” he told Safa.net

“Also if you look at it, football abroad is a step or two ahead and if we can get more players overseas it will help South African football tremendously because with the experience we get that side we will be able to do more for our country.

“I just hope we can have more numbers and get to bigger clubs where we will also play Champions League and that will be good for our nation because that’s what we need. If you check the likes of Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana they have a lot of players in the highest leagues abroad and that helps their game, it helps when it comes to competitions. It’s a step forward if we can get there most of us,” he added.

The former Mamelodi Sundowns man also alluded to his eye-catching performances for Vitoria Guimares this season, which has seen him garner vast European interest from the likes of Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Malaga, Villareal and Hoffenheim, to mention a few.

“It’s going very well, its been very great indeed. But things started very bad. I had an injury, which led me to gaining a lot of weight, but credit must go to the club because they gave me necessary support – they helped with my weight and mental strength because at that time I was going through a lot, asking myself a lot of questions.

“I had a lot of negativity, so I really owe them a lot. Things changed drastically when I started playing and I just stamped my authority and my confidence grew with every game I played, the coach gave me a lot of confidence and the teammates were very supportive.

“It was a tough journey but worth it, and I am just happy that I was at the right place at the right time – the team is now in the Europa League, and I have been a key player for the club, so I am just in a very good space at the moment, which is important for every footballer to perform well,” he concluded.

South Africa face Nigeria at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo State on Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for 19h00.

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/Backpagepix