It just became a whole lot tougher for South African talent to land a dream move to the Premier League.
Folks in England voted for Brexit in 2016 as xenophobic fears pushed the UK to become less integrated with the European Union (EU).
It’s now set to hit the Premier League in the transfer market.
In a proposal this week, the FA want clubs to reduce their number of foreign imports from 17 to 12.
And while it will hurt EU players, non-EU stars will find it much harder to get the elite athlete work permits that enable Africans like Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah to strut their stuff in the big league.
This is not even mentioning the South American ysters like Sergio Aguero, Alexis Sanchez and Roberto Firmino.
If the numbers of these types of players are under threat, then can you imagine the chance of a South African making it?
Right now, there is just one Bafana Bafana-eligible player in the English top flight – Percy Tau.
And he was farmed out to Belgium second-division outfit Union Saint-Gilloise by his parent club Brighton immediately after paying an SA-record for the winger.
The 24-year-old seems to be playing above his league at the moment, but what this move could do is put his Premier League future in jeopardy.
Making it in one of Europe’s top-five leagues is still a massive achievement and it will cost ambitious players nothing to continue dreaming big.
There are talented South Africans out there – just look at Tashreeq Matthews who just signed with German giants Borussia Dortmund and Lyle Foster, who is set for a move to Monaco in France.
But for the Prem, it could see itself become less appealing to new fan recruits as the number of players representing them becomes less.
One African nation that is still well represented in English football is Bafana’s opponents in their crucial Afcon 2019 qualifier on Saturday: Nigeria.
Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, Leicester striker Kelechi Iheanacho, Watford hitman Isaac Success and Brighton defender Leon Balogun could all make an impact at Soccer City.
Bafana will have to be on their toes against the talented attack, with Iwobi set to pull the strings alongside former Chelsea star Jon Obi Mikel.
Iwobi has been impressive for the Gunners this season, playing with the purpose and imagination that seemed to have disappeared at the end of Arsene Wenger’s time at the Emirates.
He will look to get in between the lines of Bafana’s midfield and defence to release runners like Iheanacho.
However, just like Bafana, Nigeria has also lost a number of key players for this match.
Still, SA coach Stuart Baxter will be sure not to give his players any reason to be complacent.
It’s a massive match. And the only qualification after this campaign will keep Baxter in a job.
And maybe some Bafana players can play themselves into the Prem shop window.
– Daily Voice