DURBAN – Former Bafana Bafana captain Sibusiso ‘Rhee’ Zuma has criticised the current crop of South African footballers who think playing for top sides in Gauteng is the pinnacle.
Zuma made his name in Denmark, where he was recently honoured for his outstanding play.
He plied his trade with the giants of Danish football, Copenhagen. He scored one of the most memorable goals for them in a derby against Brondby, and the striker went on to win them the league, which is the reason why he was honoured.
He also made 67 appearances for his country, netting 13 goals.
Zuma strongly believes that the lack of a large pool of players who are campaigning in Europe is one of the factors killing Bafana Bafana.
“South African footballers don’t take playing in Europe seriously. We need more players campaigning over there. If we want to get back to where we once were, we need to export more players.
“During my time with Bafana, we didn’t struggle to qualify for major tournaments and the majority of us were playing in Europe at that time.
“We had Siyabonga Nomvethe, Benni McCarthy, Quinton Fortune, Delron Buckley, Steven Pienaar, Hans Vonk, Lucas Radebe, Bradley Carnell, Mark Fish and many other players that I haven’t mentioned who were playing abroad. And we were qualifying for Afcon easily,” Zuma explained.
Bafana currently have had six players in Europe – Bongani Zungu, Kermit Erasmus, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Andile Jali, Thulani Serero and Keagan Dolly.
And now Lebogang Manyama has moved there as well.
“Now we have just lost two games to tiny Cape Verde. But most of their players play in Portugal and in other leagues in Europe.
“The whole country is playing the European style. We too need to have more players playing in Europe.
“Look at the national teams like Ghana; they always qualify for everything. They have a huge number of players in Europe.
“I think they are leading in Africa. Ghanaian players are all over. Even in small teams, you find them.”
Bafana Bafana’s dream of playing in the World Cup is in tatters, after the double blow against Cape Verde in World Cup qualifying. To add to their woes, Fifa announced that their match against Senegal has to be replayed.
“Our players think the money this side is enough, but it is not about money. It is about learning and gaining experience that can help you as a player and your country.
“You can’t stay here if a small club from Europe wants to sign you. You can’t say you will stay in South Africa because you are playing for Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Chiefs.
“The experience of playing in Europe can help you while you are still playing, and even after your playing career,” Zuma explained.
Bafana haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 2002. They only played in 2010 as they were the hosts.
“It is difficult situation we are currently facing. It is really bad. Cape Verde can’t beat South Africa. Come on guys! But football is football.
“What made me angry about the Cape Verde games is that we lacked hunger. We didn’t show that we wanted to win at all costs. We were just moving the ball around without any aggression.
“When Moses Mabhida Stadium is buzzing and it is a World Cup qualifier, fans must know that the victory is guaranteed. We need to change our mentality. Fans want to see the winning team. Even if we lose, they must see we were fighting.”