Whilst yours truly was happy to see our professional footballers plying their trade in the stinking rich South African Professional Soccer League (PSL) riding the crest of the waves, one is inclined to take with a grain of salt that our boys have what it takes to be counted amongst the finest on the African continent.
Both Brave Warriors stalwarts Pikes Shalulile and Deon “Hotter than Hell” Hotto-Kavandjii were in impressive form during the just ended PSL campaign. The pair’s near faultless display for their respective clubs Highlands Park and Bidvest Wits elevated them to the status of superstars.
Ironically, both players’ fairytale run came to an abrupt end when their respective clubs were surprisingly sold to new owners. Luckily, the Namibian pair did not have to lose any sleep over their immediate future with potential suitors already lined up to dangle a juicy carrot in their faces for their precious signatures.
It’s now a well-known secret that Hotto-Kavendjii signed for Soweto giants Orlando Pirates while Shalulile found refuge with serial league winners Mamelodi Sundowns.
Fair enough, both players are now in the advance period of their professional careers and while the prospect of playing in the highly competitive Caf Champions league is enticing, yours truly is a bit uneasy with their choice of destination.
The Lions of the North had a fairly good season by their own standards with the gangling Namibian net buster on top of his game. Pikes enjoyed a stellar season in only his third season in the South African top tier football league.
It should be noted that Highlands Park and Sundowns are miles apart in terms of quality and style of play, same applies to Hotto’s former club Wits.
Take nothing away from Pikes, the athletically built former Tura Magic’s top marksman is a proven goal scorer, strong and can hold off robust defenders with his height and strength, a rare commodity amongst South African born footballers.
My concern is his mental strength, having just being crowned PSL joint-top goal scorer with an amazing goal tally of sixteen strikes to his name and a regular starter at his former club, will the Namibian be satisfied and patient playing second fiddle to established stars such as Affonso, Sirino, Fraser, Mahlambi, Maboe and Vilakazi?
After all, you don’t pay so much money for a player only to have them warm the substitutes’ bench or worse still, keep them in the stands like so many other stars who arrived at Sundowns amidst much fanfare.
Jeremy Brockie is a case in point, the free scoring bearded Kiwi arrived at the Pretoria outfit with an incredible goal scoring resume but faded into obscurity.
The big frame New Zealander was finally shipped off to Maritzburg United on loan having failed dismally to nail down a place in Pitso Mosimane’s star-studded starting lineup.
As for Hotto, he’s a PSL veteran having had stints with Golden Arrows, Bloemfontein Celtic and Bidvest Wits with the Ghosts his fourth professional team during his seven-year lodging in the PSL.
Nevertheless, football is a short career and the players should start thinking about having something tangible to fall back on when their playing days are over. If the mentioned figures (salaries) are anything to go by, the pair should stay put and secure their future.
On the flip side of the coin, should the players not enjoy sufficient game time, our national team could be the ultimate loser as the technical team could find themselves between the rock and a hard place scratching their heads whether to select ineffective players or go for loyalty based on past performance.
If my recollection serves me right, I recall a hot striker going by the name of Fees Moloi, who joined Chiefs amidst much fanfare only to prove a nine-day wonder while Khama Billiat is yet to find his goal-scoring boots despite arriving at Amakhosi as the hottest striker in the business. I rest my case.