• Bafana stick to big guns

    Percy Tau of Bafana Bafana with teammates Keagan Dolly, Bongani Zungu

    Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter called up his European based heavy hitters in his latest squad as he looks to benefit from their experiences abroad, writes DEAN WORKMAN.

    In days gone by Bafana Bafana had squads packed with talent playing all over Europe. The likes of Benni McCarthy, Mark Fish, Lucas Radebe, Quinton Fortune, Shaun Bartlett, Eric Tinkler and many more were playing in leagues such as the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1.

    READ: European exports selected for Bafana’s Afcon qualifiers

    Back then, Bafana were one of Africa’s finest football teams and they cemented this status with their victory at the African Cup of Nations in 1996.

    That was Bafana’s last major trophy and although they went on to qualify for the World Cups in 1998 and 2002, and of course competing as hosts in 2010, they have struggled to reach the highs of the late 1990’s.

    One of the reasons behind the national team’s lack of success could be largely down to the lack of South Africans competing across Europe’s most competitive leagues.

    When the commercialisation and influx of financial benefits of the South African game began to take affect at the turn of the century, players become satisfied to stay in the country and cash their ever-increasing paychecks instead of testing themselves overseas.

    This had an adverse effect on Bafana as they no longer had players with European experience and pedigree in the squad.

    Watch: Baxter’s Bafana Bafana squad announcement

    However, in recent years we have seen a major shift in this mentality as players now all harbour ambitions of playing abroad.

    The likes of Keagan Dolly, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Lebo Mothiba, Bongani Zungu and most recently Percy Tau have all looked to take their careers to another level by moving to Europe.

    Baxter has named all five of the above-mentioned players in his latest squad and he will be hoping that they will use their European experience to help improve the rest of the squad and ultimately fire Bafana back to the glory days.

    This will not happen overnight and it is by no means a quick fix solution.

    One can only hope that the European-based big guns will be able to improve and develop abroad and then bring that back to the national team as they will form the basis of this Bafana Bafana side for years to come.

    Watch: Tau nets worldie on full debut

    Photo:  Kabiru Abubakar/BackpagePix

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