The playing standard of Mzansi Diski has improve considerably over the past few years, this improvement may have coincided with the influx of sponsorship and the increased marketability of the Premier League that has attracted millions of Randela’s in sponsorship money and Television rights deals that have allowed clubs to remunerate players better while acquiring the services of players and coaches that serve to improve the pool of talent available in the league as a whole. While all this improvement is slowly translating into a bigger pool of elite level talent to select for our national teams at all levels, it has also given some of our elite level talents less incentive to move abroad and increase their own playing standards after they have shown that they have outgrown the standard of football in Mzansi and can no longer develop further while playing here; place the blame on the clubs for pricing the players out of the market, the players for not wanting to step out of their comfort zones where they are well remunerated, the player representatives for ushering their clients towards racking up the bucks ahead of attaining a higher level of prestige while fulfilling their potential or the entire fraternity as a whole for not inspiring a level of ambition that will help our football grow and be worthy of the status we once held as a football nation. Truth be told, we all have a role to play in this regard and we at GSV took it upon ourselves to present to you a feature that seeks to enlighten you on players that are ready to make that transition and afford themselves an opportunity to grow as footballers while bettering the standard of Mzansi Diski and its reputation globally; with no further delay, we present to you the Mzansi Diski edition of Attracting Attention. Enjoy!
For the last couple of seasons, BidVest Wits have aspired to themselves as the likeliest side to break into that Top 3 bracket of Mzansi sides on a competitive, commercial and financial level; The Students have grown into a football club that can afford to compete with the giants of Mzansi Diski for players while continually proving to be even more competitive against them on the field of play. Even before their growth in stature, Wits were always a tough nut for the Top 3 sides to crack, yet they would constantly seem to lose their best players to the Top 3 sides every season as they lacked the financial muscle to remunerate their players as much as they were being offered at the richer Gauteng sides; although Wits did well to supplement the talent drain with youth development products that would come into the side and add a competitive nature to the team, Wits seemed to have struggled to find that perfect balance of talented players entering their peak stage and promising young lads hungry for a chance to fulfil their potential. The squad seemed to find a certain level equilibrium when they took one of their academy graduates in Sibusiso “Vila” Vilakazi and made him the skipper of the side after he grew into his role as a trequartista and became the clubs talisman; Vilakazi became a model for what other young academy grads could aspire to become if they kept their heads down and shun the lure of earning more money at the bigger clubs for the opportunity to develop further in an environment that promotes growth for young talents while keeping an interest in securing them moves abroad before looking to sell them locally. A talented talisman like Vilakazi also made it easier for Wits to lure talented players to their side when they entered the transfer market, players love to know that they are moving to a club that has a set playing philosophy and a culture that allows them to become the most complete professionals that they can become; when Wits beat their rivals to the signings of Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Jabulani Shongwe, they proved that they have indeed become the attractive option that they have long desired to become and they also strengthened the spine of their team at the same time.
One could argue that these players were added to the side to ensure that the attentions of Vila and his representatives were not turned elsewhere while ensuring that the side was sufficiently equipped to compete against the top sides; yet the honest truth is that it shows great management from the club heads and the gaffer to ensure that their star player has the supporting cast he needs to play at a high level and justify why they feel it will be in the best interest of all parties involved if they continue to shun local advances for the lad and set an asking price that they will only negotiate with foreign based clubs. The defensive solidarity of a Gavin Hunt side cannot be understated, Gav has proven himself as a defensively astute gaffer and he often builds his most successful sides on a team ethic that dictates that the side must shore up defensively before harbouring any ideas of going forward and looking to play some attacking football; Vila has been central to this philosophy as he has added a more defensive side to his game while proving that he can continue to be a match winner for his side on the offensive end too. BidVest Wits have been of the hardest sides to dominate in Mzansi Diski and yet they remain one of few sides with the ability to punish lacklustre defending with the quality of their attacking unit, this balanced playing style wound not be possible if the orchestra did not have a conductor that was blessed with the mental ability to complement his technical proficiency and dictate the tempo of the side; Vila is simply one of the best trequartista’s we have in our fraternity because he has the ability to ensure that he keeps the team ticking at all times, a trait that he has harnessed under the tutelage and playing philosophy of Gavin Hunt.
There was cause to worry when The General was being constantly overlooked or underused at senior national team level as many of the lads that were above him weren’t of the same ilk as him, now that he has taken those tribulations and used them as fuel to light the fire within himself to continually get better, Vilakazi has firmly established himself as one of Bafana Bafana’s key players going forward as he has begun showing signs of being a class player on the international stage while still being 2 seasons away from entering his peak as an elite level trequartista. Sibusiso has the ability to take on opposition markers with his direct running ability while making great strides towards mastering the art of the slide-rule pass that makes the most of the spaces he creates for his teammates to run into and beyond opposition defenders; we at GSV feel as if the playing standard of our league tends to hold him back from adding even more to his game now that he has reached a level where he can constantly dominate against most sides without even getting into his 4th gear. The fact that the lad has been attracting attention from some top sides in Europe cannot be overlooked, he is a top class talent that still has bags of potential to delve into before his game is complete and he reaches the peak of his powers as a playmaker; a move abroad will help the lad add a few more facets to his game while playing at a higher level and showing the even bigger sides in Europe that he has the ability to play at the elite level and be a quality trequartista. Although Vila seems tailor-made for the smaller side that looks to play on the transition, running at their opponents when their defensive lines aren’t settled and retaining the ball more when they have built up a comfortable lead, we at GSV feel as if he can play that high octane passing and counter-pressing football if he is exposed to it at the elite level with teammates that are of a similar or higher pedigree than he is.
We took the liberty of putting a call in to our Talent Scout and asking him to come through to The Boot Room for a cup of tee, or two, and have a chat about which European sides would suit the lad and his expertise; we sincerely hope you enjoy having a look-see at what we managed to come up with after a few cups of Moringa tea with mint leaves and lemon slices.
Danish Superliga side Brøndby IF have had Vila over on trial on at least two occasions in the last couple of seasons, the lad impressed the management staff with his immense abilities, yet they failed to successfully negotiate a deal with Wits for his services on two occasions; Brøndby IF and BidVest Wits enjoy a growing business relationship as the Danish side managed to loan a teenage Lebogang Lelani Phiri for 18-months before negotiating to sign him outright after the young lad impressed barely 10 months into his loan deal. The prospect of having an amazingly talented Bafana hopeful like Lebo Phiri partnering with and established Mzansi star like Vila should make the mouth of a true Mzansi Diski purist water, the two would feed off each others vast levels of experience while showcasing the talent Mzansi has to offer as well as flying the flag of BidVest Wits and their stellar Development Academy sky high of foreign soil in tandem. The more tactical approach to football in Denmark would suit Vila extremely well as he would fit like a glove in a club that plays with an out-and-out trequartista in their playing formation while also affording him the opportunity to learn a new skill set by playing him wide of a front three and allowing him to learn how to use his ability to take on players in a wider variety of manners.
Seasoned former Scottish international and gaffer Alex McLeish has broken away from the norm and shown that British gaffers have the ability to transition into managing in foreign leagues, his Genk side is packed with good pros that seem to have a certain level of solidity about them when they get it going; in a competitive league that seems to have grown a reputation for developing elite level talent of late, Vila would find a good football club with the talent and pedigree to match his abilities and ambitions. The fact that his fellow Bafana star Anele Ngcongca has settled in the side and is one of the key players in the league would only serve to sweeten the pot, Belgium is now home to a handful of Mzansi internationals and Vila would find it easier to acclimatise to football in the country with his compatriots around to help in the easing of the transition. The style of play in Belgium would be an excellent match for Vila’s game as they seek to play a well balanced game that is very similar to the one he currently thrives in at Wits, the playing standard is much higher and the lad will look to take on this challenge with the same aplomb that he takes on opposing players; it would also be a great stepping stone
Under the guidance of the legendary Dutchman Phillip Cocu, PSV seem to have run away with the Eredivisie this season, it may be too early for some to call it a landslide victory but the calibre of football they are playing this season has been scintillating to say the least and the are proving to be a worthy heir to the throne. Naturally, when they left off last season a side packed with talented young players in Holland begins to do very well, they run the risk of the elite sides in Europe swopping in an dismantling their side with mega bids for the lads and the lure of playing at an even higher level; Ajax have shown plenty of sides the pros and cons to this phenomena, and one feels as if PSV need to start preparing for the inevitable talent raid that is coming their way during the next two seasons. Supplementing their promising young players with some more experienced foreign internationals would put them in great stead going forward and a player like Vilakazi would thrive off playing for such a prestigious club in an environment that promotes growth and sustained success, the pairing seems made to be a successful one as South Africans seem top acclimatise well to life in Holland while the language barrier is less imposing as the a few Dutch lessons begin to make one feel comfortable as if one is back in Afrikaans class. The General would find PSV as a side he can establish himself in and build a solid international career at while playing football at the elite level and rubbing shoulders with the best of them in the UEFA Champions League while picking up a couple of league winners medals in the process.
Name: Sibusiso Vilakazi
DoB: December 29th, 1989 (25)
PoB: Soweto, Johannesburg; Gauteng
Position/s: Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista
Caps & Goals: 11 Caps, 4 Goals
Club: BidVest Wits F.C.
Appearances & Goals: 155 Apps, 26 Goals
Market Value: R 6 500 000
Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2015