Are Zimbabwean imports to SA football just as important as Spaniards are to the EPL?
In every continent, there are a number of competitive soccer leagues that every player from within that continent aspires to play in. For instance, in Africa, the South African ABSA Premiership is by far the biggest competition and most of the continental players dream of playing in that league if not in Europe. The same applies to the English Premier League in Europe where we find many Spaniards pushing for moves to play in a country popularly known for the unfavourable winter weather. This piece is a brief comparison between Zimbabwean imports to South African soccer and the Spanish players to the EPL.
With recent trends of quite a number of Zimbabweans moving to South Africa to pursue their career in football, one would wonder if these imports are just as important as the Spaniards are to the English Premier League. The answer is yes. And here’s why.
Although these players are from different parts of the world and from different cultures, they somewhat contribute to the game in the same way. The Spaniards for example are very technically gifted players whose presence completes their teams. David Silva, Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla are just but a few Spanish players who are/were indispensable in their respective teams. This is because they brought that technical ability, vision, and killer passes that cannot be found in most of the players from the rest of the European continent.
The same can be said about Zimbabwean players. Not in the sense of their technical abilities nor their popularity in making deadly passes, instead, they bring their unique attributes to the South African teams. Zimbabwean players are known for their tireless efforts throughout the 90 minutes. Be it legends like Tinashe Nengomasha who appeared for Kaizer Chiefs and Esrom Nyandoro in Mamelodi Sundowns colors and even Willard Katsande of this generation, they all have that grit. Coincidentally, these above mentioned players all played in the defensive midfield role and some might argue that they ought to have that hard working mentality which is demanded of the position. However, even attackers like Khama Billiat still work their socks off from the top end of the pitch.
Furthermore, the Spaniards are quite more affordable than investing in a local English soccer player. The amazing talents of David Silva were acquired by Manchester City for a cut-price of £35 million in 2013 from Valencia. This is relatively affordable compared to the amount of money invested in buying raw talent from Liverpool by Manchester City. They paid £50 million for the 23-year old winger who was far from being a finished article. As a result, these Spanish players become more significant to the English teams because they are more affordable in the inflated market.
Zimbabweans are undeniably more affordable options for South African teams as well. For example, Knowledge Musona moved to Kaizer Chiefs for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of US$10,000 and became the most important player in the league. This was around the time that South African strikers like Katlego Mphela were making a name for themselves. These players were valued almost five times more than the Zimbabwean. As a result, the top teams in the ABSA Premiership emphasised on recruiting Zimbabwean talent.
Furthermore, the recruitment team recommends players whom they think will improve their teams and eventually help to win the competitions they participate in. In England, most of the clubs who recruited Spanish international were made not to regret their investments as they have helped their teams to glory. Take Fernando Torres at Liverpool for instance and how he helped them win the UEFA Champions League under Rafa Benitez. Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta has won the English Premier League on a number of occasions.
The winning teams in the ABSA Premiership also had their players from the north of the boarder who had their fair share of contribution in their title winning campaigns. Khama Billiat, Tinashe Nengomasha, Willard Katsande etc. have all won trophies for their respective clubs.
Because of that, I think Zimbabwean imports to South African football are just as important as Spaniards are to the English Premier League.