The lure of PSL’s big three is a mirage
There is no doubt that playing for Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs or Mamelodi Sundowns represents the pinnacle of a player’s career. Attracting their interest showcases a player’s development and immense talent that caught the three giants’ eyes, signing for them is viewed as a dream come true but more often than not the reality will sink in as soon as the ink dries as a player signs on the dotted line.
In recent weeks, Kabelo Seakanyeng, Mosha Gaolaolwe and Segolame Boy have been linked with moves and trials at the PSL’s big three. The interest demonstrates the players’ progress and the fact that Botswana football can still attract South Africa’s top flight clubs.
Currently, Mogakolodi Ngele is the only Motswana player, the number has dropped from 10 in 2013 to just a solitary representative. Despite the welcomed interest, players should make advisable career moves that could benefit them.
Phenyo Mongala (formerly at Orlando Pirates) and Ngele (Sundowns) can attest to the fact that the lure of South Africa’s holy trinity does not always result in a rosey picture that was sold to them before their ill-fated moves.
Both players got PSL winner’s medals by virtue of being squad members but were never really given enough chances to blossom. Mongala was a cult hero at his previous club, University of Pretoria and the same applies to Ngele who enjoyed a trophy laden spell at Platinum Stars, they were guaranteed starters at their previous clubs but they were lured by the ‘pot of gold’ in Gauteng, which ultimately proved to be gold-dust.
Clubs such as Supersport United and Bloemfoentein Celtic have proved to be a more attractive proposition for foreign players, Mongala excelled in his loan spell at Celtic to support the notion.
The so called less fancied clubs have always been happy hunting grounds for foreigners due to the time and support they offer, unlike the big clubs who are instant glory hunters.
Mogogi Gabonamong and Diphetogo Selolwane had stellar and prolonged careers in the PSL because they resisted the urge to join South Africa’s big three, most notably Gabonamong rejected a move to Pirates in favour of a transfer to Supersport.
It proved to be a wise move as he won the 2012 Nedbank Cup and created history as the first Motswana player to captain a PSL team in a cup final in the 2013 Nedbank Cup final.
Prior to his Supersport move he was the Engen Santos captain and won the club’s major awards for two consecutive seasons. Joel Mogorosi enjoyed a fruitful three year spell at Celtic, he won the Telkom Knockout in his first season as the club’s top scorer in the competition including the winning goal in the final against Sundowns. As a result,he was linked with the Pretoria giants but decided to stay put and eventually became the club’s captain.
Gazette Sport has listed possible reasons why moving to the PSL’s big three is a major risk.
No guarantee of first team football
Before making the big move, players should ask themselves the most important question; “how and where do I fit in?”. Big clubs are normally well oiled machines with quality players already at their disposal and new signings are often made to increase squad depth.
Most signings are made to act as back ups for the clubs’ star players and substitute roles deter a player’s development. At Pirates Mongala was a back up for first team players such as Tlou Segolela while Ngele was Keegan Dolly’s understudy at Sundowns.
The big three clubs have millions of supporters compared to the tens and hundreds of thousands of followers in Botswana. Any misplaced pass or a miss is jeered and booed as seen in the Soweto derby, the pressure that comes with playing for big clubs is usually difficult to cope with.
They are impatient with foreign talent
Players are expected to adapt quickly to the demands of the big clubs, they usually spare little time for new talent to get to grips with the fast life of the hugely followed clubs. Fans view new signings as ‘the finished article’ and they expect them to light up the league upon arrival, only local players are given the benefit of the doubt as they are viewed as developing players.
The PSL’s big trio has discarded foreign players unceremoniously in recent years without giving them proper chances to adapt. Mongala and Ngele are examples of such an act, they were loaned out after only one season at their clubs (Pirates and Downs).