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A Window Of Opportunity

Today – PSL transfer window deadline day – indeed provides a window of opportunity for clubs to make those last-minute signings, with the hopeful supporters sitting back and watching it all unfold from a distance.   
Depending on which side of the fence you are sitting on as a supporter, this could turn out to be the best day ever or the worst. Your club could literally snatch victory at the hands of defeat by signing that one player who has been linked with the club for some time but has somehow not made the move. Or you could have one of your club’s key players snatched by a rival. Ouch, nothing hurts like the latter scenario, but that is football and the nature of the transfer business as we know it.
The transfer window means different things to different clubs. The fact that it comes twice during a season – at the beginning and midway– is most welcome for many because it allows clubs to bolster their squads in preparation for the season, but also to shore up those departments that need adjustments as the campaign progresses. 
Like most football supporters, I’ve been most impressed by the signings made by both Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns in the current transfer window. Amakhosi football manager Bobby Motaung has been on the receiving end of very harsh criticism from the club’s hard-to-please fans for his dealings in the transfer market in recent seasons. With that, the “buy one, get one free” slogan has gained traction, what with the club’s tendency of buying players ‘in bulk’ from Zimbabwe. But the only real success stories from Zim for the Naturena-based outfit in the last couple of seasons have been Knowledge Musona and Willard Katsande. Some of their compatriots have struggled so much that one would be tempted to think they come from a completely different part of the world. 
And so it was a welcome change from the norm when the club announced in December last year that they had secured the services of Leonardo Castro, who joined Amakhosi earlier this month. The fact that he was snatched from Sundowns, a club that Chiefs are vying for the league title with this season, must have made it sweeter for the club’s faithful. The Colombian scoring on debut in the 2-1 win over Baroka FC was the cherry on top. Now, with the signing of the likes of Castro, Siphelele Ntshangase and Kabelo Mahlasela, the expectations among the supporters have been raised a notch higher, and rightly so. Isn’t it about time that Kaizer Chiefs reclaim their glory and dignity? 
Well, not if Sundowns have anything to do with it, by the looks of it. Pitso Mosimane has continued with what is becoming his tradition of travelling to South America to look for the best available talent in that continent. On his most recent sojourn, he returned with the prized signature of Gaston Sirino, who has demonstrated his class, skill, vision and composure in the two substitute appearances he has made so far in the Absa Premiership. If social media banter is anything to go by, the Downs faithful are really excited by the Uruguayan’s arrival and my take is that he is going to make a huge impression once he settles down to life in Mzansi.
The man who will look to benefit from his skill and guile is the sniper, Jeremy Brockie, who was on the radar of Masandawana for quite some time before putting pen to paper on what is believed to be a lucrative contract in mid-January. Some might argue he had gone off the boil a bit at SuperSport United prior to his departure, but hey, one man’s poison is another man’s meat. The New Zealander has not looked out of place in the two substitute outings he has made and should at the very least have bagged a goal already, looking at the chances he has been able to get and the positions inside the box he is able to get into. 
If anything, it’s refreshing to see big players at big teams, just like it used to be in the good old days of South African football. It gives the league a competitive edge, especially among the Big Three who are always looking to outsmart, outclass and outmanoeuvre each other. It gives us more appeal as a league. Far too often we have had to watch average players dishing out average performances wearing jerseys of teams where the pressure is higher than anywhere else.
With all due respect, it is so disappointing watching mediocre foreign players huffing and puffing not only at the big teams but right across the league. You wonder why our clubs’ scouts and coaches go the trouble of signing players who promise so much yet deliver so little but would have second thoughts about giving that kid from Limpopo or the Eastern Cape his big break. Should a foreign player not be better than what we have? Yes, football is so much of a business these days and the pressure is real, but the question has to be asked: are our clubs doing proper research on the players they sign from other African countries? On the evidence of it, the answer is no.  
Dear football supporter, while you are rubbing your hands in glee anticipating that big-name signing for your club before midnight today, please spare a thought for Ajax Cape Town, who are caught up in a “Tendai Ndoro saga”. This after the club signed the Zimbabwean from Saudi Arabian side Al-Faisaly and drafted him into the starting line-up against Platinum Stars and Cape Town City, respectively. Little did the Urban Warriors know that signing and playing Ndoro would open a can of worms, as he has also already featured for Orlando Pirates this season. According to FIFA rules, a player may be registered with three clubs in one season, but may only play for two.  
Rule 5.3 states, “Players may be registered with a maximum of three clubs during one season. During this period, the player is only eligible to play official matches for two clubs. As an exception to this rule, a player moving between two clubs belonging to associations with overlapping seasons (i.e. start of the season in summer/autumn as opposed to winter/spring) may be eligible to play in official matches for a third club during the relevant season, provided he has fully complied with his contractual obligations towards his previous clubs. Equally, the provisions relating to the registration periods (article 6) as well as to the minimum length of a contract (article 18 paragraph 2) must be respected.” 
One wonders if this is a case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. Meanwhile, the clock ticks, as the midnight hour looms large on the horizon…   
Catch y’all on the rebound!

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