The big losers of the world cup meltdown

Harare ‑ One of the lasting images from the 2010 World Cup is that iconic picture of Siphiwe Tshabalala, dreadlocks flowing, opening the scoring at the tournament with a beauty of a goal against Mexico at Soccer City.

He was certainly not the outstanding African footballer at that World Cup, Ghanaian forward Asamoah Gyan won that accolade by a distance, despite his costly penalty miss against Uruguay that denied the continent its date with history.

Tshabalala was 26 then and, in the prime of his career, and although he remains stuck at Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa, his stunning World Cup goal opened doors for him, including a trial period at former European champions Nottingham Forest.

The same is also true about Katlego Mphela, the man who led the line for Bafana Bafana during that World Cup and scored a goal in the win against France, and although he is still at Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa, he got his chances to move and was offered an opportunity at Scottish champions Celtic.

The World Cup is always a big marketing platform for African players who are angling for a career-changing big move and after the Lions of Teranga’s sensational performance at the 2002 tournament in Japan/Korea, life was never the same for a host of their stars who clinched some mega deals.

El Hadji Diouf was just a 21-year-old unknown forward, stuck in the French league, when he arrived with the Lions of Teranga in Japan/Korea for that World Cup but, after a sensational performance, his world changed and a £10 million deal to five-time European champions Liverpool followed.

Another World Cup is on the horizon with the global showcase moving to Brazil next year, 64 years after the country last hosted it, and the tragedy for Southern Africa is that there won’t be even one team from this part of the continent who will be taking part.

What that means is that a window of opportunities has been shut for a galaxy of players who could have used that World Cup show to boost their profiles and The Southern Times looks at the biggest losers, the players who could have made a big splash but whose chance has now gone.

Thulani Serero (Ajax Cape Town/South Africa)

The 23-year-old South African international was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons last week after being booted out of the Bafana Bafana team in the wake of a fall-out with coach Gordon Igesund. But that should not mask the fact that he is a talented footballer whom Ajax Amsterdam coach, Frank de Boer, rates highly and believes will replace the void that has been left by rising Danish star, Christian Eriksen, who left for Tottenham Hotspur during the transfer window for £11 million. Serero won the Footballer of the Year, PSL Player of the Season, PSL Players’ Player of the Season at the end of 2011 just before he was signed for Ajax Amsterdam. He has already played three league matches for the Dutch giants this season, which shows the club’s rising confidence in him. He could have used the 2014 World Cup to really showcase his talents to a bigger audience but that is now all gone. He will be 28, when the next World Cup comes around in Qatar, and in football, as they say, his career would now be taking a downward turn.

Knowledge Musona (TSG Hoffenheim/Zimbabwe)

The 22-year-old Zimbabwe international is back on loan at Kaizer Chiefs after two difficult years in the German Bundesliga where he remains contracted at TSG Hoffenheim. Highly-regarded in Zimbabwe as the next big star after Peter Ndlovu, Musona has been a revelation for the Warriors, scoring consistently for an under-performing team but he struggled in the Bundesliga and after just a season at Hoffenheim he was loaned at Augsburg where he only scored once. Given his brilliance, when it comes to international football, Musona would have benefitted immensely if Zimbabwe had qualified for the 2014 World Cup finals and many believe he could have won the move that appears to suit his talents – either to England or to France. Sadly, that chance is now gone and the Smiling Assassin will be 27 when the next World Cup comes around in Qatar.

Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton/Zambia)

The 23-year-old Zambian international was propelled by his superb performance at the 2012 Nations Cup finals, where his three goals helped Chipolopolo win their first African football title, from the backwaters of Swiss football to the glitzy limelight of the English Premiership after signing for Southampton. But he struggled to adjust to his new environment and wasn’t sure for much of the season before being shipped, during the transfer window, for a loan deal to French club Sochaux. He would have certainly benefited immensely had the Zambians qualified for the World Cup in Brazil and he will be 28, not an attractive investment for any big club, and you feel his huge chance is gone now.

Robert Ng'ambi (Platinum Stars/Malawi)

The 27-year-old Malawian international has been one of the standout players in the South African Premiership and was one of the players shortlisted for the 2012/2013 Footballer of the Season award in that country. His country came with 90 minutes of booking a ticket to the final qualifying rounds of the World Cup and, after that chance was blown away by the Super eagles of Nigeria, one feels that’s it for a global showcase to display his talents. He will be 32 when the next World Cup comes around.

Joel Mogorosi (Bloemfontein Celtic/Botswana)

The 27-year-old Botswana international forward has had a successful spell since moving to South Africa last year and turning himself into one of the best players in Super Diski. His country came within 90 minutes of booking a ticket into the final qualifying round of the 2014 World Cup but all that was ended by the 1-4 defeat at the hands of South Africa and events in Congo Brazzaville. Given that he will be 32 by the time the next World Cup comes around.

Djalma Braume Manuel Abel Campos (Porto/Angola)

The 26-year-old Angolan international hasn’t really exploded since moving to Portuguese giants Porto and has spent time on loan in Turkey at Konyaspor. He remains a highly-rated winger and would have benefited immensely from his team’s second appearance at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. He will be 31 by the time the next tournament is held in Qatar and stands no chance, even if he is still part of the national team and they make it, of interesting the big boys of world football.

September 2013
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