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Thulani Serero: Bafana Bafana midfielder's move to UAE may be costly to his playing career

12:57 PM GMT 26/08/2019
Bafana Bafana, Thulani Serero
Serero may have just committed a career suicide by moving to the United Arab Emirates. Goal SA Chief Editor explains why this could be the case

Bafana Bafana midfielder Thulani Serero bid farewell to his European career following a move to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday.

Serero penned a two-year deal with Al Jazira, leaving Dutch outfit Vitesse Arnhem to end his eight-year stint in Europe. 

At 29, the Soweto-born midfielder still had a lot to offer European football,  especially considering that he was once a hit in both the Uefa Champions League and Europa League

His move to the UAE appears to be motivated by money more than anything else because he was a regular at Vitesse; the team that gave him a lifeline when he fell down the pecking order at Ajax Amsterdam two seasons ago. 

While it may make financial sense for Serero to have accepted the deal, this may have severe consequences going forward. 

Less Bafana call-ups 

From previous experience, South African players who ply their trade in countries that are not huge on football have received less Bafana call-ups. 

This is simply because national team selectors appear to cast their net in the PSL and in Europe for players who can help the team move forward. 

Serero may have just bid farewell to his international career just like May Mahlangu, who was once a regular whilst playing in Sweden

Mahlangu currently plays for Ordabasy in Kazakhstan, a central Asian country where there is less exposure for his progress to be monitored week in an week out. 

Serero is a big-name player in South Africa, but perhaps his lack of game time at Bafana made him decide to move swiftly to secure his financial future than stay in Europe for the sake of visibility.

This could be an issue related to poor player-monitoring on the side of Safa and Bafana Bafana coaches because it didn't start with Mahlangu, but other good players as well in the past.  

In the mid-1990s, Mark Williams was hot property for Bafana but his international career ended abruptly soon after moving to China in 1997. 

The same can be said about Bennett Mnguni, who was one of the first South African players to move to Russia

Mnguni was a regular member of the Bafana squad between 2001 and 2004 but he kissed his international career goodbye when he moved to the Chinese Super League in 2005.

Lately, one player whom national team selectors continue to overlook is Dino Ndlovu. The striker left Qarabag for China not so long ago, and while he has been doing well at Zhejiang Greentown where he has scored 22 goals in 28 appearances, it has become extremely difficult for him to return to the Bafana setup.

In Brazil, Oscar hasn't played for the Samba Boys since leaving Chelsea for Chinese side Shangai SIPG in 2017. Oscar, 27, last played for Brazil in November 2016.        

With the 2021 Afcon tournament and 2022 Fifa World Cup around the corner, Serero may need to up his game to keep his place in the Bafana team.  

Fewer European scouts

Serero hogged the headlines for all the right reasons when he was at Ajax Amsterdam, especially after his performances in the Uefa Champions League

A few years ago, Serero scored against Barcelona, and he was seen as one of the brightest talents to come out of South Africa in recent years. 

He was also linked with a number of clubs in England, but nothing came out it. The reports alone meant he was doing something right to be linked with teams in the UK.  

He also featured in the Europa League for Vitesse, and the exposure he got while playing in Europe's top competitions meant more teams were taking notice of him. 

Moving to the UAE where the league is less competitive compared to Europe could signal the end of a once-promising career for Serero.  

Very few clubs keep tabs on players in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, and if he returns to Europe in the next few years, then he would have to be consistent and show the majority of European scouts that he really deserves to play in better and bigger European leagues. 

As things stand, Serero may be happy to leave Europe for UAE, but perhaps he should have delayed this move and see if he gets the chance to either play in England or Germany for that matter.