Why Bafana International Has Bucked Home Comfort Trend By PSL Big Names

Lebogang Phiri
Lebogang Phiri

There has been a concern by South African supporters, including legends of the game that Bafana Bafana players who got to play in Europe and come back to the DStv Premiership, lack ambition.

The outcry has become more louder, as Bafana are conspicuous by their absence at the on-going FIFA World Cup in Qatar and there has been suggestions that the country's dismal performance at the international stage is due to lack of players who ply their trade in Europe.

However, one of the Bafana players, who has stuck it out in Europe is Lebogang Phiri, who recently signed a long-term contract with Turkish top flight side Rizespor.

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However, Phiri, who is yet to be called-up by national team coach Hugo Broos, has been sent out on loan to French Ligue 2 side Paris FC after finding challenges in breaking into the starting team.

As reported in edition 1301 of Soccer Laduma, available at your nearest outlet, Paris FC have tabled an offer to Rizespor, to sign the 28-year old, who featured in six consecutive matches prior to the World Cup break, permanently.

The Siya crew understands that Phiri is open to a move, since he is familiar with the environment in Paris and it will depend on his parent club whether they can agree with the second-tier French outfit, on a transfer fee.

The 28-year old is seemingly determined to stick it out in Europe, as he also dropped a division with Guingamp from their time in Ligue 1 after spending four years with the club.

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However, that has not been the case with the likes of Bongani Zungu, who made it clear that he wants out of Amiens following their relegation from French top flight, before he eventually returned home as a free agent.

Bafana players such as Andile Jali, Kermit Erasmus and Keagan Dolly have also abandoned European ambitions to play for the so-called big three in the country at the peak of their careers.

"It's easier to come back and earn the big bucks at Chiefs, Pirates or Sundowns than go abroad and sacrifice everything that maybe is not agreeing with with you," Bafana legend Shaun Bartlett said at the Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational Charity event.

"You're in a foreign country, different language, different culture, different lifestyle and not everybody is prepared to do that.

"So I think that's what it comes down to, that we don't have the strong mindsets, the players of this current generation in order to succeed at that level," he said.

"When I came back to sign for Chiefs I was 34, not 28 or 30, now you have players coming back at 28, 30-year old and are like, 'Ja, let me go play for Chiefs, Sundowns or Pirates and not stick it out in Europe.

"I think that needs to happen a little bit more or the other way we need to send more younger players into Europe, get them developed and stay there for a while," he added.

What makes Phiri buck the trend of Bafana players returning home is that he went to Europe at an early age from the Bidvest Wits juniors and has not played in the PSL.

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