Harare – Never before has the English Premier League been graced by so many players from this part of the world.
As the most followed soccer league in the world roars into life this weekend, Southern Africa will be significantly represented with five players from the region in the thick of things.
For years, the region has had to feed off the memories of the exploits of Benni McCarthy (South Africa) and Peter Ndlovu (Zimbabwe) to stake an emotional claim to the EPL. Now there is a buffet of talent to feast on.
South Africa’s Percy Tau and Enock Mwepu of Zambia are on the books of Brighton and Hove Albion and will be looking forward to a good season at the American Express Stadium.
The pair of Zimbabwe teenage sensation Tawanda Maswanhise and Zambia striker Patson Daka will be seeking to help Leicester City replicate the miracle of 2015-2016 when the Foxes made a mockery of the 5,000-1 odds to win the EPL title.
Zimbabwe midfielder Marvellous Nakamba is expected to play an even more significant role for his club Aston Villa.
Although there are reports linking Tau to another loan move, this time to Egypt’s Al Ahly where he could link up with his former Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, nothing has materialised as yet and the striker is tipped to make match-day squads for Brighton.
Tau spent the first year of his stay at Brighton away from the Amex playing in Belgium for Anderlecht where coach Vincent Kombany hailed his industry.
Mwepu and Daka will be looking to life in the EPL after Brighton and Leicester snatched them from Austrian Bundesliga giants Red Bull Salzburg.
Daka has since received rave reviews from Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers after sparkling in friendly matches as well as in the season-opening Community Shield final which Leicester came out 1-0 victors over Manchester City.
“He (Daka) is very similar to Jamie (Vardy) in his traits. He wants to run off the backline, he’s a great finisher and all of those players – Patson, Jamie and Kels – we’re going to need all of them. It’s a long season, hopefully lots of games, and there’s not one of them who’s going to play in every single game. You want to be able to maximise their talents, bring them on in games, start them in games. Bringing Patson in gives us that extra flexibility to do that.”
Teenager Maswanhise, who gave a good account of himself in the academy over the past years appears set to command a place in the senior team with Rodgers a firm admirer of the youngster’s style.
Nakamba, on the other hand will be looking forward to finally break into the Villa starting 11 after being largely used as a cover-up shield over the past two seasons.