Bafana Bafana wants to cap Nigeria-born Ime Okon before the Super Eagles

Bafana Bafana wants to cap Nigeria-born Ime Okon before  the Super Eagles

Nigeria-born Ime Okon, 20-year-old, has become a fixture in the SuperSport United defence alongside Siyanda Xulu and Thulani Hlatshwayo with 18 league appearances this term.

He has a Nigerian father and is eligible to represent the Super Eagles. Because he’s yet to play four matches for the senior side, he can still switch allegiance. Andre Arendse believes this would be a huge shame were that to happen.

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

“I know what I’m talking about, I had the privilege of playing behind some of the best defenders in South Africa – I don’t even need to mention names, you guys know who I’m talking about and I’m telling you now in a few years he’s going to be up there and even better than those.”

Okon has made 27 appearances for Matsatantsa since being promoted from the Diski Challenge side. In October 2023, we called Okon one of the five most talented teenagers in South Africa as he continued to produce formidable partnerships with both Siyanda Xulu and Thulani Hlatshwayo. He was in the starting XI which beat Richards Bay to book a place in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, with 18-year-old superstar Shandre Campbell bagging a brace. Gavin Hunt has some seriously talented youngsters in this squad.

“Ime Okon is the next one [like Ronwen Williams] of that radar and I don’t want to hype him up and put it out there to say he’s the best because he’s 20 years old I think, maybe for a few months 19, but he’s a super talent, a super talent,” Arendse said about the defender whose been on the fringes of the Bafana Bafana team.

Okon, 20, who is one of the breakthrough young stars for United this season together with Shandre Campbell, holds dual citizenship because his father is Nigerian and his mother is South African. He has been named in provisional squads a few times by Bafana coach Hugo Broos but he is yet to earn a cap, and Arendse is concerned South Africa may lose a "super talent" to rivals Nigeria.