'Afcon could derail Zim players' deals'

HARARE - Zimbabwean player agents fear the staging of the African Nations Cup in South Africa will limit the chances of local players hoping to secure contracts in that country.

The Nations Cup has given South African football scouts a wonderful opportunity to asses a diverse array of players from across the continent in a competitive match situation.

Consequently, Zimbabwean players trying to impress various Super Diski clubs will fall down the list of potential new signings.

“Absolutely, it’s that simple. It’s almost 100% that clubs in SA will be monitoring the progress of players in the tournament,” leading local agent Kenny Mapeza said.

The South African clubs will mostly likely be on the lookout for players still plying their trade on the continent.  

Such teams as Zambia, Ghana, DRC, Angola and Ethiopia have carried to the Afcon quite a sizeable number of home-based players.

Even the Nigerians, one of those nations who often fill their squads with an assortment of Europe-based stars, have showed some faith in players from their domestic league.

The Super Eagles included six players from the Nigerian Premier League.

“I was at Afcon 2006 (Egypt) and 2008 (Ghana). I can tell you there were countless scouts from not only the host countries, but from all over the globe. You see, Afcon is a platform designed for particular countries to showcase their talent.”

Another player agent, Denford Mutashu, echoed Mapeza’s views: “It’s a fact. One of the players I manage is actually on hold because of the tournament.”

Mutashu manages Swaziland-based goalkeeper Ephraim Mazarura, who was recently on trials with an undisclosed South African Premiership side.  

Mapeza said in the eyes of South African scouts, the absence of Zimbabwe from Africa’s premier football showcase has weakened the standing of local players.

However, another prominent agent Gibson Mahachi, is more optimistic of local players’ chances of landing contracts down south.

“In the long run yes, this may affect Zimbabwean players who may want to play in SA but not for this January transfer window. It’s now some eight days before the transfer window close on January 31 so we have nothing to worry about. We should remember that most of these players at Afcon already have lucrative deals elsewhere so I don’t see the competition affecting local players on trials.”

Dynamos strikers Rodreck Mutuma and Simba Sithole are currently on trials at Bloemfontein Celtic and SuperSport United respectively while Monomotapa midfield star Ronald Chitiyo and unattached defender Byron Madzokere are being assessed by champions Orlando Pirates.


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