South African football requires an attacking midfielder. The national side needs a true playmaker who understands the art of attacking and who can create and score goals from the midfield.
Following the retirement of one of Bafana Bafana’s finest in the form of Steven Pienaar, Gordon Igesund has begun the search the fill the void “Schillo” has left behind.
This void is immense. Pienaar added creativity, speed and vision to the national team and his experience and talent will be sorely missed as he continues to ply his trade for Everton in the English Premier League.
Thulani Serero seemed destined to take over from Pienaar in the role of attacking midfielder, but the Ajax Amsterdam player is likely to be ruled out of the Africa Cup of Nations due to injury. This has created a conundrum for Gordon Igesund as this role has been left vacant.
There are options for Igesund, with players ranging from PSL and international leagues who can play in the space behind the striker.
But Ayanda Patosi is the name on everyone’s lips at the moment, as the KSV Lokeren attacking midfielder has been making a significant impact in the Belgian league since joining the club in 2011. He has played 36 times for the club, netting 7 goals.
Lokeren are the talk of the town in Belgium as the team are currently on a four match winning streak, with Patosi being the main instigator behind the club’s surge in form. This season Patosi has made his breakthrough, scoring 5 goals in only 14 appearances. He played as a substitute for the majority of his first season at the club but is now a regular and important starter.
Patosi is a success story from the African Soccer Development Academy (ASD) in Cape Town. The Khayalitsha-born footballer played his early club soccer for Mighty United, Vasco da Gama and FC Cape Town before joining the Academy which helped him to secure a four year contract with KSV Lokeren in Belgium.
MIDFIELDER | KSV LOKEREN O.V
He has already tasted trophy success with the club as he won the Belgian Cup with the side when he was only 19. Lokeren have admitted that there were many club vying for the midfielder’s services but they fought to sign him with the co-operation of the ASD.
He has been included in the Belgian League Team of the Season which is constantly updated. The player has scored three times in his last three games, which has meant many South Africans are calling for his selection into the national team.
In the mould of Thulani Serero, Patosi can both create and score goals and is regarded as the one of the finest emerging talents from South Africa. His ability to play in behind the strikers or on the left hand side of midfield means he will offer Bafana variety in attack.
Imagination and creativity are needed in the Bafana set-up as long time stalwarts such as Simphiwe Tshabalala have not been able to conjure up many match-turning performances since the World Cup. The players need a rival and Patosi could be the challenger South Africa requires.
But Patosi is merely showing potential and is not the proven product. He has no experience in international football and has only played professional European football for a short time. His form may be temporary and he still needs to prove he has permanent class.
As his star begins to brighten, more influential and powerful European clubs will target Patosi as his promise grows in the Belgian league. His experience and talent will be nurtured over time.
South Africans will need to wait for Patosi’s talent to be exposed over a full season of laborious European football. If he continues to score with aplomb and show creative talent his place will be earned in the national set-up.
Gordon Igesund has realised this and did not give into the hype surrounding the youngster. He did not select Patosi for the game against Zambia citing that he was keeping his eye on the player but that there were many others who he believed could fill the role he needs in the side.
However, this opens up a debate surrounding the selection of talent over experience. Igesund will have chances to select and assess Patosi in action with friendlies being scheduled for Bafana Bafana left, right and centre before the Africa Cup of Nations.
The coach has to decide whether he feels the youngster can make a significant difference to the Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
As South Africa edge closer to kick-off at the Africa Cup of Nations, Igesund will play with the idea of throwing the unproven talent into the fray. However, the risks are high.
There is no doubt that Patosi is an exciting player. He is definitely one of the future stars of South African football but may not fit into the present.