Mamelodi Sundowns and Uruguayan attacker Gaston Sirino would be eligible to play for Bafana as of next month, if he’s interested.
Sirino, who arrived at Sundowns in January 2018, will complete five years in the country on 17 January 2018 and this makes him eligible for South African citizenship.
According to FIFA laws, a player with no biological links to the country he is playing in, is required to have stayed in that country for a period of five years to be considered eligible to change nationality.
Sirino’s numbers since he arrived in January 2018 in South Africa, are looking very good. In the 161 games he has played in all the competitions, he has scored 36 goals and provided 39 assists.
And since his arrival at the Brazilians from Bolivia, where he was scouted by current SAFA Technical Director Walter Steenbok and former Downs head coach Pitso Mosimane, no other Premier Soccer League (PSL) side has won the Premier Soccer League titles.
It’s not clear if there is still an appetite at Bafana Bafana to consider Sirino’s call-up, and SAFA President Danny Jordaan said it is now up to head coach Hugo Broos and his technical team to make that call.
“Well, that is what other countries do – they give them passports and they play, but we must not be opportunistic,” he told iDiski Times on Sirino’s availability.
“One thing we don’t do, is that we don’t pick the team. That is the responsibility of the [technical] team and we don’t tell him what to do.
“The coach’s position is clear, that he doesn’t pick the team for only one game.
“He wants to pick a player for the future, but these are the issues that the coach will resolve.”
Sirino, who forms a deadly partnership with Themba Zwane, will be turning 32 in February 2023 and Jordaan also doesn’t believe that age will be an issue, as Broos was proved wrong by Zwane in these past few months at Bafana.
“Look at Luka Modric at 37 years old, he was one of the best players at the World Cup. If you are good enough, you are young enough. So, the coach mustn’t look at the age only,” he added.
“If Modric at 37 is still in the team and showing strong, if Neymar in his thirties is also still going strong – these should be the lessons we are taking from this World Cup.”
Bafana’s next assignment is the 2023 African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Liberia (home and away) in March, and it will be interesting to see if Broos and his technical team would make the call for Sirino – provided that the Uruguayan will be interested of course.
This story first appeared in this week’s iDiski Times newspaper, edition 85, which is freely available at Shoprite stores in Gauteng.