Thursday, 26 January 2012
South Africa Road is calling for Bafana Bafana stars
It seems unlikely given that new QPR boss Mark Hughes has been linked to every player and their sister in this transfer window, yet should any of Steven Pienaar, Daylon Claasen or Katlego Mphela end up at Loftus Road they will find themselves in surroundings that sound strangely familiar.
Of the Bafana Bafana trio, Pienaar seems most likely to be taking a stroll down South Africa Road in London W12 over the next five days, perhaps even having time to pop into the General Smuts pub around the corner on Bloemfontein Road for a swift pint before he signs?
Unsubstantiated rumours also claim that Loftus Road is named after Robert Owen Loftus Versfeld - acknowledged as the founder of organised sport in Pretoria, where the famous stadium bearing his name played host to the 2010 World Cup. The area around the stadium is thought to have been named after the South Africa Pavilion in the old Exhibition Grounds, built in 1908 for the Franco-British exhibition, with many of the other roads in the area also bearing names from other parts of the Commonwealth.
As things stand, however, there's a long way to go until QPR fans will be firing up the braai to welcome any new signings from South Africa. Spurs have slapped a price-tag of around £6 million on Pienaar's head and confirmation that Hughes also has his eye on Wigan's Victor Moses - at 21, eight years Schillo's junior - is a worrying development for the Bafana captain.
With his path to regular first-team football blocked by the Premier League's best midfield combination, Pienaar is itching to make the most of the time he has left at the top and would probably jump at the chance of a move - if another club can match his estimated £60,000 a week wages. Nouveau-riche QPR are one of the few who can, although it remains to be seen how far the finances of Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes will stretch after the signing of Manchester City defender on a whopping £4 million a year contract.
For FC Lierse midfielder Claasen, wages would not be a problem. He was a star of the 2009 under 20 World Cup alongside Kermit Erasmus and has been attracting interest from big clubs in Holland and Scotland as well. But issues over whether Claasen would be granted a work permit given his lack of international caps and the galaxy of stars likely to be ahead of him in the pecking order at Loftus Road make a summer transfer the most likely scenario.
That leaves Mphela, who boasts a better goalscoring ratio at international level than Lionel Messi with 22 goals in 42 matches for Bafana. His failed trial at Celtic back in July looked like being 'Killer's' last opportunity to return to Europe after a spell in France when he was a teenager but news of QPR's interest may give him some hope.
A natural predator in front of goal, astonishingly Mphela still has his detractors in his homeland but has shown his ability to find the net at any level. He may not end up being the man to entrusted with the job of keeping Rangers up, although there would be a great photo opportunity if any of the Bafana stars do end up at South Africa Road this January.