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Sibusiso Zuma: Bafana Bafana stars are too comfortable playing at home

19:23 EAT 18/11/2018
Bafana Bafana v Nigeria, Thembinkosi Lorch, November 2018
Zuma, who plied his trade in Denmark and Germany during his playing days, has explained why Bafana are struggling to qualify for major competitions

Ex-Orlando Pirates forward Sibusiso Zuma believes that South Africa will benefit if more players leave the country for overseas clubs.

The retired attacker became a key player for Bafana Bafana after moving to Europe where he had joined Danish giants FC Copenhagen in 2000.

“Since coming back from Europe, I have been stressing that it’s a must that players go to Europe,' Zuma told City Press.

Zuma stated that local players can learn more about the game when they ply their trade abroad.

"If you feel you are ready to go to Europe, you need to take that opportunity because that is where your game will grow," the former Arminia Bielefeld player continued.

“In Europe, you learn so much in a short space of time. Our players must understand that, in a space of two years, you can learn so much overseas," he stressed.

Nicknamed Rhee, Zuma was part of the Bafana squad at the 2002 Fifa World Cup finals in Korea/Japan.

Sixteen players from the 23-man squad were playing for overseas teams compared to the four which were included in the recent Bafana team.

"If you look back at our team, almost everyone was playing overseas. Phil Masinga was playing in Italy, Shaun Bartlett in England and Benni McCarthy was in Portugal," he added.

Bafana were held to a 1-1 draw by Nigeria in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at home on Saturday and they will have to secure a draw or a win against Libya in order to qualify in March 2019.

"These guys were not on the bench, but they were playing for the first team week in and week out, and you could watch them on TV scoring goals. This is what we need for the national team. If local players are serious about their football careers, this is what they should do,” Zuma said.

Zuma, who captained Bafana at the 2006 Afcon finals in Egypt, urged players playing for top local clubs to dream big because football is about challenging and pushing yourself to the limit.

“If players are happy playing for Orlando Pirates, I can’t change their mind-set, but it would be better for them and the national team if they went overseas. These guys are comfortable because they are getting all the money here, but it’s not about the money – it’s about the level of football that you want to play and it’s about challenging and pushing yourself to the limit," he indicated.

Zuma established himself as one of the best players in the country after joining Pirates from African Wanderers in the late 90's.

“I always thought that going overseas and the goal that I scored there was special, but I still rate joining the team I grew up knowing, African Wanderers in Durban, and getting promoted with my friends to the PSL was the best moment,” he stressed.

“Wearing a jersey with the PSL logo was very important to me," former FC Nordsjælland player concluded.