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Saffas making waves abroad as Phakamani Mahlambi and Bongani Zungu secure big moves

Posted: 10 September 2017 Time: 14:00

With the dust now settled following a busy transfer window, a retrospective look reveals encouraging signs for both young and experienced South Africans attempting to make a name for themselves abroad.

Many a local fan have bemoaned the lack of local talent failing to match the heights reached by the likes of Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish, Phil Masinga, Quinton Fortune and Benni McCarthy in years gone by, all of whom made an impact in some of Europe’s strongest leagues.

Yet a number of high-profile moves over the past weeks could be the spark to fuel the next generation of South African talent to hit the big-time abroad, and is already a major step up from the off-season transfer window last year.

Last year’s headline transfer was undoubtedly Bongani Zungu’s switch from Mamelodi Sundowns to Vitoria Guimaraes, with former teammate Keagan Dolly securing a switch to French club Montpellier in January.

Other noticeable transfers included Bidvest Wits forward Liam Jordan’s loan move to Sporting Lisbon, while young SuperSport United duo Jake Aresti and Zama Rambuwane joined PEC Zwolle and Israel’s Hapoel Ra’anana respectively.

Three already European-based South Africans also found new homes, as Dino Ndlovu joined Azerbaijan club Qarabag, Tokelo Rantie penned a deal with Turkish outfit Gençlerbirliği while free agent May Mahlangu headed to Romanian side Dinamo Bucaresti.

This year, however, has seen many more South Africans venture further afield and away from home comforts in a number of big-money moves.
Headlining these is Bidvest Wits sensation Phakamani Mahlambi’s reported R17-million switch from the Absa Premiership champions to Egyptian giants Al Ahly, one of the most successful clubs on the African continent. The deal was announced on the every same day PSL Player of the Year and topscorer Lebogang Manyama secured his overseas move to Turkish topflight side Konyanspor.

On deadline day, Bafana Bafana international Bongani Zungu made a multi-million Rand move from Guimaraes to Ligue 1 club Amiens, a definite step up to a stronger league where world renowned stars such as Neymar, Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao ply their trade.

Earlier in the transfer window, talented midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo left the Netherlands after a comfortable eight-year stay to test out the waters in England, joining Championship outfit Brentford for a reported 1-million Euro fee.

Other South Africans to move within Europe were Lebogang Phiri, who moved from Denmark to French top-flight side Guingamp; Thulani Serero who joined Eredivisie club Vitesse with striker Lars Veldwijk also heading to the Netherlands, leaving Belgian club Kortrijk for Groningen.

Four promising South African youngsters are also getting good experience: Luther Singh is at Braga B, Thabo Cele made the step up from Massama to Benfica B in July while Ajax Cape Town duo Dean Solomons and Leo Thethani have joined parent club Ajax Amsterdam's reserve team.

Rivaldo Coetzee’s ‘almost’ transfer to Glasgow Celtic, which only fell through at the last hurdle, did however also provide hope in that a Champions League-playing team was aware of our local stars.

There are clear signs that South Africans are indeed embracing the challenge of stepping out of their comfort zones to experience a higher level of football abroad, with the hope that more will follow suit for the betterment of the local game.

Article by: Fabio De Dominicis
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