Durban - Bafana Bafana may not be playing in this month’s Africa Cup of Nations but South Africa continues to remain one of the continent’s elite football destinations.
The country’s Premier Soccer League has up to 17 players set to feature at the continental showpiece. This includes eight players from the top flight and a further nine from the Gladafrica Championship (second tier).
The following are the top five players from the PSL that may play big roles for their respective nations in the Afcon.
There is a chance that Daniel Akpeyi may not play at all with Netherlands-based Maduka Okoye currently Nigeria’s first choice in goal. However, a loss of form or injury to the 22-year-old could see Akpeyi thrown into the mix at any time.
Akpeyi has been in top form for Chiefs recently, throwing PSL legend Itumeleng Khune into his shadows. The 35-year-old Akepyi will be a more than apt replacement for Okoye should the Super Eagles need his services as they look to win a first Afcon since 2013.
Zimbabwe are a decent unit on paper but perennial failures when it comes to Afcon and World Cup qualifiers. Given that they have been pitted against Senegal, Guinea and Malawi, the Warriors will fancy their chances of potentially advancing beyond the group stage.
Since joining Supersport in 2019 from Orlando Pirates, Kudakwashe Mahachi has established himself as a tough-tackling and no-nonsense attacking midfielder. Zimbabwe may well struggle to break down Senegal but they will fancy their chances of taking points against Guinea and Malawi. Mahachi will need to be on his toes if they are to unlock the duo.
Like Mahachi, Onismor Bhasera continues to be an important figure for Supersport. In a professional career spanning nearly 20 years and an international career spanning over 16 years, Bhasera has seen a lot.
Zimbabwe will need stability in the backline and Bhasera will be vital in providing this. As a senior member of the squad, he will also need to provide guidance and advice to younger players in the team.
The end of Afcon could mark the end of Bhasera’s involvement with his nation as they look to usher in a new era after failing to qualify for the
Malawi have nothing to lose in the Afcon. Given their grouping with Guinea, Zimbabwe and Senegal, they will fancy their chances of striking it lucky and advancing to the knockout stages.
Gabadinho Mhango currently may not be in the best form for both club and country but he must pull up his socks and deliver in front of goal if his nation is to be a surprise package in the Afcon.
When on song, Mhango can be a composed figure in front of goal. The 29-year-old will take inspiration from his 2019/2020 form for Pirates as he scored 16 league goals in that campaign.
The 28-year-old Malawi captain knows what it takes to overcome the odds. He was a figure in the Amazulu team which sensationally finished second in the South African Premiership last season to qualify for the CAF Champions League for the first time in history.
While commanding the backline for his nation, Limbikani Mzava must also bring the energy that Benni Mccarthy instilled in Usuthu to the Malawi national team if they are to shock the public at the Afcon.
Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs/Nigeria)
Kudakwashe Mahachi (Supersport United/Zimbabwe)
Onismor Bhasera (Supersport/Zimbabwe)
Limbikani Mzava (Amazulu/Malawi)
Other South Africa-based players at Afcon
Temptation Chiwunga (JDR Stars), Gerald Takwara (Venda Football Academy), Talbert Shumba (Free State Stars), Ishmael Wadi (JDR Stars), Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows).
Joel-noel Amonome (Uthongathi)
Dennis Chembezi (Polokwane City), Khuda Muyaba (Polokwane City), Richard Mbulu (Baroka FC).
Olisa Ndah (Pirates)
Badra Ali Sangaré (JDR Stars)
Modou Jobe (Black Leopards)