Lyle Foster: What does the future hold?

Lyle Foster, GOALGOAL
  • Lyle Foster, Westerlo,2022Westerlo

    Breakthrough season

    Lyle Foster is coming off his best season in Europe having moved to the continent when he joined French Ligue 1 giants AS Monaco from Orlando Pirates midway through the 2018/19 campaign. After unsuccessful spells with Monaco, Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes and Cercle Brugge of Belgium, the Bafana Bafana international was snapped up by Belgian outfit Westerlo in July 2021 and he had finally found a home where he could flourish as a regular in the team's starting line-up.

    The former South Africa under-20 international, who was on loan from Guimaraes, became one of Westerlo's key players as the team battled for promotion to the Belgian First Division A with the likes of RWDM and Waasland-Beveren. It was Westerlo who secured direct promotion to the elite league of Belgian football after clinching the First Division B title. Foster also helped the De Kemphanen (the Brawlers in Dutch) enjoy a good run as they reached the Last 16 of the Belgian Cup.

  • Lyle Foster, Westerlo, 2022Westerlo

    The story of last season

    Foster was mainly used as an impact player coming off the bench as a substitute in the early stages of the season and he netted his first goal for Westerlo after being handed a rare start against Antwerp in the Belgian Cup clash in October last year. The Brawlers caused an upset - defeating the top-flight club, Antwerp, 2-1 with Foster netting his side's second goal. From there onwards, the Pirates academy product became a regular under head coach Jonas de Roeck.

    The Johannesburg-born marksman then grabbed a brace and an assist to inspire De Roeck's side to a 5-1 win over Lierse in a league game in November last year before scoring and assisting in the Brawlers' penultimate game of 2021 as they edged out Excel Mouscron 4-3 after the team was eliminated from the Belgian Cup by OH Leuven. Foster endured a five-match goal drought at the start of 2022 before scoring the opening goal as Westerlo claimed a 2-1 win over Beveren in February this year - which was part of a three-match winning run in the league. This proved to be his last goal of the season, but he provided an assist as the Brawlers succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Lommel in April this year. 

    However, Westerlo went on to clinch the First Division B title - finishing the season six points clear of runners-up RWDM. Foster scored five goals and provided four assists from 26 matches across all competitions during the entire term. The lanky player was nominated for the 2021-22 First Division B Player of the Year award which he missed out on. He was then included in the South Africa squad which faced Morocco and lost 2-1 in the 2023 Afcon with Foster scoring Bafana's consolation goal on June 9 which was his first goal for the senior national team.

  • Lyle Foster, Westerlo, 2022Westerlo

    Any transfer rumours?

    With Foster having played an instrumental role in helping the club secure promotion to the top-flight, Westerlo moved swiftly to secure the services of one of their most important players for the foreseeable future as they decided to make his loan move from Guimaraes permanent. Guimaraes disclosed that they had received a transfer fee of around R17 million (€ 1 million) as part of their agreement from Westerlo, while also being entitled to 15 percent of any future sell-on fee. 

    Before the announcement by the Portuguese club, Foster had not been linked with a move away from Guimaraes and this remains the case. The former South Africa under-23 international seems to be happy at Westerlo judging by his recent statements in press conferences while being on the national team with South Africa. We have seen several South African players being tempted to return home from Europe early. Tokelo Rantie and Ayanda Patosi surprisingly returned home as youngsters to ply their trade in the PSL.

    A few PSL clubs like Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates tempted Foster to come back home, but as things stand the 2018 Cosafa Under-20 Championship Golden Boot winner wouldn't be interested in returning home having made it clear that he is enjoying playing in Europe and wished that more South African footballers would join him abroad. Foster signed a four-year deal with the Brawlers which will expire in 2026 which signalls his intention to stay in Europe and continue building his own legacy.

  • Lyle Foster - AS MonacoGetty Images

    One big fear for 2022/23

    Taking his chances in the top-flight. Foster is yet to prove himself in an elite league having left Pirates after netting just once in nine PSL games but it is understandable because he was still only a teenager back then. However, he struggled in the French Ligue 1 with Monaco where he made two appearances including a start before being sold to Guimaraes. During his loan spell with Cercle Brugge in the First Division A, Foster netted just once in 18 league matches. Now he has to prove that he can also do the job in the top-flight after excelling in the Belgian second-tier this past term. 

  • Lyle Foster, Bafana Bafana & Raphael Varane, France, 2022Backpagepix

    One big hope for 2022/23

    For the former Monaco reserve team player to better his finishing and become more ruthless in front of goal. Bafana currently lacks a reliable centre forward similar to Benni McCarthy and Katlego Mphela. At the age of 21, Foster can still develop into a top-class striker having shown glimpses of what he can do against Morocco with his sharp runs and good positioning in the opposition's box. Once he improves his finishing in front of goal, Bafana and coach Hugo Broos will have a reliable striker at their disposal.

  • Lyle Foster, Westerlo, 2022Westerlo

    GOAL’s prediction for 2022/23

    With his previous experience in the First Division A with Cercle Brugge under his belt, Foster will stand a better chance of flourishing in the competition. His goal against Morocco will earn him more Bafana starts when the 2023 Afcon qualifiers resume in September this year and he could be key to South Africa's hopes of qualifying for the finals in Ivory Coast.