Once again the recent Cosafa Cup proved a happy hunting ground for scouts and agents in search of the next big star.
The competition has become a pilgrimage where football brokers find fresh talent from the southern African region. In recent times, a number of players have earned themselves lucrative contracts after impressing at the tournament, and this year was no different.
Last year, the biggest catch was Zambian striker Justin Shonga who signed with Orlando Pirates. The 21-year-old went on to contribute six assists while scoring four goals in 19 league appearances for the Soweto club in his maiden season.
A week after the conclusion of this year’s tournament, a couple of SA clubs have already confirmed signings.
Chippa United have raided Botswana to sign Thatoyaone Kgamanyane and Kabelo Seakanyeng from Gaborone United while the likes of Mwampole Masule (Township Rollers) and Kobamelo Kebaikanye (Orapa United) have also been linked with a move to South Africa.
The wheeling and dealing that went on at the tournament even led to an outburst on social media from usually poised Zimbabwean star Khama Billiat.
The veiled rebuke was reportedly directed at agents and scouts calling Billiat nonstop and making him promises.
Zimbabwean players in particular have been a hit at the competition (see sidebar).
Mamelodi Sundowns scout Esrom Nyandoro described the Cosafa Cup as a good platform [to net new players], noting that players, particularly from Zimbabwe, come to the tournament to impress.
“They [Zim players] are hardworking players who are very hungry. We all know that things are not so good in Zimbabwe in terms of the economy,” Nyandoro said.