‘South African players are too comfortable’

With the increasing amount of players returning home from abroad, it is a worrying factor that South Africa and Bafana Bafana in particular no longer has a strong European presence.

The likes of Lucas Radebe, Aaron Mokoena, Quinton Fortune, Benni McCarthy, Steven Pienaar, amongst others, have all retired after establishing themselves in Europe’s top leagues.

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At present, only Bongani Zungu, Keagan Dolly, Lebohang Phiri and Lebogang Mothiba seem to be acquitting themselves in the French Ligue 1, while Kamohelo Mokotjo is making great strides in the English Championship.

Palacios believes this is down to players becoming too comfortable with their earnings in the PSL, while a lack of commitment restricts them from showcasing their talent.

“Back in the day there was no money in the PSL, but now we have money and some players think differently – buy expensive cars, private life is different, no commitment,” said Palacios.

“Because South African players are too comfortable, there’s no ambition. This is something that copies from the PSL to the national team.

“I always say, and I never want to change this, South Africa has better talent than any country in Africa.”

Using former Bafana Bafana and Tottenham Hotspur defender Mbulelo Mabizela as an example, Palacios stresses that until South African players fix their attitudes and become disciplined off the field, finding their feet amongst Europe’s elite will remain all but a pipe dream.

“One time I went to Chelsea, and the technical director, who worked at Tottenham before, said to me, ‘OJ Mabizela, geez, such a great player!’” he added.

“’But you know what was the problem? Attitude, discipline, behaviour, arrived late for training, and the different culture – he would fly for this funeral, traditional [ceremony], and he never settled.’

“A lot of coaches in Europe say this to you, and I tell you the truth, ‘South African players are great but their problem is attitude, commitment, dedication..’ and this is a problem we do have.”

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