From South America with love, but not always talented

There has been a spike in the number of South American players streaming into the Premier Soccer League (PSL), and while some have brought something special, others are nothing out of the ordinary.

Since the dawn of the PSL era, Mamelodi Sundowns started the trend and got people wondering when they brought Vincente Principiano from Argentina, Rafael Dudemal and Jose Torrealba, both from Venezuela, in the 2005/06 season.

While Dudemal and Principiano did not contribute much to Masandawana’s cause, Torrealba did extremely well and will be remembered as one of the
foreigners who left an impression in the local league.

Torrealba linked well with Godfrey Sapula, Josta Dladla and Surprise Moriri and they terrorised a lot of clubs. After a stint with Sundowns, he went back home to Venezuela but Kaizer Chiefs brought him back to the country.

Sunday World takes a look at 10 South American players who have flocked to the DStv Premiership with mixed results:

Gaston Sirino (Uruguay): The nippy South American arrived in the PSL with much promise after Pitso Mosimane gave him rave reviews. He was instrumental in cementing the Brazilians as a force to be reckoned with in the country. Mosimane wanted to lure him to Egyptian giants Al Ahly but the Sundowns office flatly refused.

Ricardo Nascimento (Brazil): The left-footed centre-back was outstanding for Sundowns in the heart of the defence. He was calm, cool and collected but he did not play as many matches due to injuries he suffered at Chloorkop. He moved to Royal AM, where he walked into the starting X1.

Ali Meza (Venezuela): It was reported that when Meza joined Sundowns from Bolivian club Oriente Petrolero in 2018, it cost the Brazilians a whopping R13-million. However, the fiery attacking midfielder did not get enough game time at Sundowns and ended up at Maritzburg United.

Junior Mendietta (Argentina): He has established himself as one of the most talented players in the DStv Premiership. Playing for a small club like Stellenbosch FC, he made such a big impression that SA giants Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs went toe-to-toe for his services. He ended up at league champions Sundowns.

Marcello Allende (Chile): At some point, he was on the wanted list of English Premier League giants Arsenal. When he arrived at Sundowns, he showed glimpses of talent that were complemented by some nice touches when going forward. He hasn’t set the scene alight but he has the potential to shine in his second season for the Brazilians.

Lucas Ribeiro Costa (Brazil): A lot is still not known about this player. But from the little information that is available it seems that he is a very explosive player. His play is deeply rooted in the Brazilian Samba and he is expected to play a major role in Sundowns going for the CAF Champions League.

Edson Castillo (Venezuela): Kaizer Chiefs fans will be hoping that he will bring fireworks after a number of their international signings proved to have been duds. Castillo has played for Venezuela Under-17, Under-23 and also the senior national and that says he is a quality player.

Erwin Saavedra (Bolivia): The 27-year-old Saavedra joined Sundowns from Club Bolivar and he is a versatile player who can play as a right midfielder or right back.

Darwin Gonzalez (Venezuela): The striker had a decent debut season with Cape Town City in the league. He teamed up with Khanyisa Mayo upfront, scoring 18 goals between themselves. Upon his arrival at the club last season, City coach Eric Tinkler said he was confident that he had secured himself a gem.

Juan Carlos Ortiz (Venezuela): Ortiz is another South American player who was tipped to make an impact in the PSL and a game-changer for Stellenbosch FC when he joined the Winelands side in January 2022. The Venezuelan forward did, however, not live up to expectations as he only scored twice in 12 appearances across all competitions for Stellies in his maiden campaign.

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