The PSL transfer window came to a close earlier in the week, bringing to an end a busy period which saw some exciting movements.
While it was mostly dominated by deals between local clubs, there were a few players who scored moves abroad, as well as some already stationed overseas, who switched their allegiance.
Among the big moves seen in the recent transfer window, one of the more exciting ones was Percy Tau’s move to Club Brugge, where he joined on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion, and now faces the prospect of featuring in the Uefa Champions League.
There was also a move for Tau’s Bafana teammate Thulani Serero, who moved from the Eredivisie in Holland, where he played for Vitesse, to Al-Jazira in the United Arab Emirates.
However, here we take a look at the players who moved from the Absa Premiership to plying their trade elsewhere, with some getting their first big break beyond these shores.
Pule Ekstein – Sabah FC (Azerbaijan)
The midfielder had arguably his best season at Kaizer Chiefs, before he was released some time before end of the campaign.
After a brief period as a free agent – where he was linked with the likes of Orlando Pirates and Cape Town City – he made a move to Azerbaijan, where he joined Sabah FC.
Kobamelo Kodisang – SC Braga (Portugal)
SA youth international Kobamelo Kodisang spent the previous season in Portugal, where he turned out for Sanjoanense, on loan from Bidvest Wits.
He impressed enough there to earn a more permanent stay at the country, this time signing a four-year contract with SC Braga.
Ayanda Patosi – FC Baniyas (UAE)
Like Kodisang, Ayanda Patosi is another player who secured a deal after abroad at the end of a loan spell at another club.
The attacking midfielder was sold to FC Baniyas, who play in the United Arab Emirates’ top flight.
Gift Links – Aarhus GF (Denmark)
Having played in Egypt, the talented Gift Links’ next adventure is in Denmark, where he will be turning out for Superligaen outfit Aarhus.
The wide player was a regular at Cape Town City, and had a breakthrough season where he caught the eye of Danish scouts.
Darren Keet – OH Leuven (Belgium)
It was no secret that the Bafana goalkeeper had been eyeing a move back to Europe, and it came to be after he joined Leuven, who currently operate from Belgium’s second tier.
It’s the shot-stopper’s second spell in Belgium, as he has also represented KV Kortrijk in between two stints at Bidvest Wits.
Former Cape Town City attacking midfielder Gift Links has barely completed a week since moving to Europe, but is looking to adapt quickly to his new surroundings.
The Bafana youngster recently joined Danish outfit Aarhus GF, following in the footsteps of legends such as Sibusiso Zuma, another South Africa who turned up in the Superligaen.
Gift Links eyes Champions League football
However, the player in whose footsteps the 20-year-old is looking follow is one of his contemporaries in Club Brugge forward Percy Tau.
The former Mamelodi Sundowns man is in his second season in Belgium, having arrived there in the colours of second tier outfit Royal Union Saint Gilloise, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion.
His most recent loan spell finds him inching towards a Uefa Champions League debut, after helping Brugge qualify for the prestigious tournament.
Links has been following his compatriots’ progress, and is impressed at how quickly he has adapted to a different environment.
“That’s my dream. If I get the opportunity to play in the UEFA Champions League, it would be great,” Links tells KickOff.
“I’ve followed Percy Tau for long, since he was playing for Sundowns. It’s amazing the things he is doing overseas because a player from South Africa goes overseas and adapts so quickly. It’s amazing, so I’ll go that side and work hard and hope things work out for me.”
Links arrives at Aarhus at a time when they are enjoying a decent run of form.
The club has registered three straight victories to take up a spot in sixth place on the league table, just behind ten-time Danish champions Brøndby, who they beat in their last outing.
Aarhus have five league titles to their name, the last coming over 30 years ago, in 1986.
The club finished ninth in the league in their previous attempt, and are looking to improve their standing this time around.
A budding journeyman
Links has done a bit of travelling in his short career so far.
The youngster made his senior professional debut as a teenager in the colours of the now-defunct Platinum Stars, before joining Egyptian side Pyramids, to become one of only two South African players to have played on North Africa.
He stayed for just one season in Egypt before moving down to the Mother City.
Bafana star Percy Tau recently made his debut in Belgium’s top flight, and is set to take one step closer towards appearing in the Uefa Champions League, with his new club taking part in the play-off of the prestigious tournament.
The 25-year-old joined Belgian Pro League outfit Club Brugge on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion, just after spending the previous campaign in the country’s second tier.
He made an immediate impact for “The Blue Black”, finding the net on debut in a 6-0 thumping of Sint-Truiden.
Ukrainian voyage awaits Percy Tau
Tau is now in line to place another feather in his cap, with Brugge set to host Ukraine giants Dynamo Kyiv in the third qualifying round of the Champions League on Tuesday.
This is after the Belgian outfit qualified for the play-offs by finishing second in their domestic league behind Racing Genk, the former club of Tau’s ex-Mamelodi Sundowns teammate Anele Ngcongca.
Brugge and Kyiv will compete over two legs, with the Belgian side hosting the first encounter at the Jan Breydel Stadium.
The second leg takes place in Kyiv at the NSC Olympiyskiy, the same venue which hosted the 2018 Uefa Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool.
South African players in the Uefa Champions League
Should Brugge make it out of the two-legged tie, they progress to the next round of the play-offs, where they are set to come against one of Switzerland’s FC Basel or LASK Linz from Austria.
Qualification for the group stage of the Champions League for Brugge would see Tau become the ninth South African player to appear in the European showpiece, joining the likes of Benni McCarthy – who went all the way with FC Porto in 2004 – as well as Quinton Fortune and Thulani Serero among others.
The last South African to grace the prestigious stage was Tau’s Bafana teammate Dino Ndlovu, who’s former side Qarabag from Azerbaijan had a brief but memorable run in the 2017/18 edition.
Ndlovu’s former side is set to feature once more in the competition, also in the qualifying rounds against APOEL from Cyprus.
UCL play-off draw 2019/20
FC Basel 1893 vs LASK
Club Brugge vs FC Dynamo Kyiv
Istanbul Basaksehir vs Olympiacos
FC Krasnodar vs FC Porto
GNK Dinamo vs Ferencvárosi TC
NK Maribor vs Rosenborg
CFR 1907 Cluj
Celtic FC vs Slavia Praha
APOEL FC vs Qarabag FK
PAOK FC vs AFC Ajax