Bafana Bafana legend Brian Baloyi believes Zimbabwean players have contributed immensely to the colourful standing of South African football.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
The former Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper heaped praise on the work ethic of Zimbabweans.
Of the 16 Absa Premier Soccer League teams, only seven clubs do not have Zimbabwean players in their books.
With Wilfred Mugeyi having lit up the South African Premiership with Player of the Year and top-goal scorer awards in the 1990s, Benjani Mwaruwari and Tinashe Nengomasha went on to walk the same route.
Currently, Knowledge Musona, Cuthbert Malajila and Khama Billiat are making waves.
“A lot of Zimbabwean players in South Africa don’t go down there just to make up numbers,” said Baloyi.
“You can see they have played an integral part in the success of Kaizer Chiefs in the past few years. You can trace that at Sundowns and Ajax [Cape Town]. Zimbabwe has become a very important part of South African football. This has been going on for a long time where there used to be Ian Gorowa, Gilbert Mushangazhikwe and the good Doctor [Tauya Murehwa]. Khama Billiat is playing well for Sundowns and the boy is brilliant.”
“I have played alongside a lot of Zimbabweans and they are all great players. But Esrom Nyandoro stands out as my best teammate. He is not only a hard worker, but a professional. I had a chance of hanging out with Bruce Grobbelaar and that guy is very funny. He is a nice guy to have around.”
The last time Spiderman, as Baloyi was fondly referred to by Chiefs fans, was part of the Bafana squad that beat the Warriors 2-0 at the National Sports Stadium in 2000.
However, the match ended in tragedy for the home fans after 13 fans died in a stampede.
The 39-year-old was back in Harare yesterday when South African legends beat their Zimbabwean counterparts 4-2 in a friendly match at Rufaro.
The Zimbabweans lost 4-2 with former Jomo Cosmos and Bloemfontein striker Lebohang Kukame grabbing a hat-trick while Jerry (Legs of Thunder) Sikhosana formerly with Orlando Pirates scored the other one.
Agent Sawu and a Lloyd Mutasa’s penalty put Zimbabwe on the scoresheet.
The likes of Stanford “Stix”Mtizwa and Brenna Msiska played for the Zimbabwe legends.