Despite serious interest from several big PSL clubs, there was only one destination for Kagisho Dikgacoi upon his return to SA after a seven-year spell in England.
It would surprise no one that, given his experience and quality, Bafana Bafana international midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi was linked with a high-profile move to Kaizer Chiefs. Reports suggest Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United were also keen on his services. However, for the well-built 32-year-old midfielder there was only one destination: Golden Arrows.
‘When I left the country, I told myself this would be the only club I’d play for when I come back because they were there for me when I started; they were loyal to me. It was only fair that when I returned I would render my services to them,’ Dikgacoi tells SoccerClub.
Quality defensive midfielders are a dime a dozen in SA football and it remains to be seen whether Dikgacoi will be able to maintain the levels of excellence he displayed during his stints with Fulham, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City.
The South African game has not always been kind to its over-thirties citizens, but a player of Dikgacoi’s quality will be welcomed at a club in need of a solid defensive midfielder. Having watched PSL football at close quarters, Dikgacoi says the pace of the game has picked up since he last played for Arrows in 2009.
‘The game in South Africa has changed in terms of the way the teams are attacking and tracking back. One thing I can say, is there’s far less time-wasting on the ball and unnecessary dribbling. There’s more intent and imagination in terms of going forward.’
Dikgacoi’s spells with the various clubs in the United Kingdom were chequered with injuries and changes of management, limiting his playing time. He was at his best at the small, but imposing Selhurst Park, where Crystal Palace often gave as good as they got.
Attendances at PSL games may have improved, but stands will never be heaving, unless teams such as Arrows are hosting popular sides Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns. With Selhurst Park known to be one of the most vibrant arenas in the English Premier League, playing to the empty Princess Magogo Stadium grass banks would be a culture shock for most footballers, but not to Dikgacoi.
‘The change for me is nothing new, because I’m South African and I know how the game functions here. It’s not like I don’t know the differences between the two leagues. There are those days when you get a good number of supporters, but playing at Palace was something else. That place was never friendly for visiting teams,’ he says.
54 AND OUT
Andile Jali’s continued excellence alongside Dean Furman’s workmanlike efforts have prevented Dikgacoi from adding to his 54 international caps since his last appearance for Bafana Bafana against Botswana in September 2013 in a World Cup qualifier. Dikgacoi feels he is done at international level.
‘Playing for the national team is not something that’s on my mind,’ Dikgacoi says. ‘My main focus is to be back on the field and to make sure I can be fully fit for the club. I’m at a point where I want to focus solely on domestic football and be of help to the youngsters who are coming through at Arrows. I need to give them the necessary support if they have higher aspirations.’
– This article first appeared in Issue 77 of SoccerClub magazine