Arendse urges SA to tighten grip on SuperSport United wonderkid

SuperSport United assistant coach and Bafana Bafana legend Andre Arendse has advised South Africa to hold onto wonderkid Ime Okon tighter, saying he will be a future star.

Okon currently holds dual citizenships: his father is from Nigeria, and his mother is South African.

The 20-year-old made his Premier Soccer League debut at the start of the season after coach Gavin Hunt, who had noticed him from amateur side Randburg FC, promoted him from the Diski Challenge.

Afcon preliminary squad

Having not represented Bafana more than four times and being eligible to play for the Nigerian national team, Arendse said South Africa should move quickly to secure the services of the towering defender.

Okon was included in coach Hugo Broos’ Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) preliminary squad, however, he did not make it into the final squad that travelled to Ivory Coast.

“I know I’m not putting pressure on him because he can handle the pressure; he’s starting to prove it in games; we need to look after him,” Arendse told the media during a Nedbank Cup last-16 media briefing at the Ke Yona House in Parktown on Wednesday.

“And you spoke about dual citizenship; we better be careful [that] we don’t lose him; he’s one for the future.”

Arendse, who was part of the 1996 Afcon winning team with Bafana, had the likes of Lucas Radebe, Neil Tovey, and Mark Fish leading his line of defence.

He said Okon has all the qualities to be a world-class player and surpass his former teammates.

Superstar in the making

“I know what I’m talking about; I had the privilege of playing behind some of the best defenders in South Africa,” said Arendse.

“I don’t even need to mention names; you guys know who I’m talking about, and I’m telling you now that in a few years’ time, he’s going to be up there and even better than those ones.

“Ime Okon is the next one [like Ronwen Williams] on that radar, and I don’t want to hype him up and put it out there to say he’s the best, but he’s a super talent.”

SuperSport will cross swords with fellow DStv Premiership outfit Richards Bay at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

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